“The United States is methodically creating anti-Chinese alliances in the region”
On Monday, August 22, the South Korean agency Yonhap announced the start of regular joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington. Against the background of tensions around Taiwan, this news sounds like the possibility of another “hot spot” in the East Asian region. How dangerous the situation of the current exercises is and what kind of reaction Pyongyang and Beijing will follow, let's deal with the expert.
Monday began with regular military exercises between South Korea and the United States, announced by the Yonhap agency. This is the first full-time maneuvers after a four-year break, called the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS). It is alleged that the resumption of activities is due to the desire of the allies to strengthen the defense against nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.
The exercise will last until September 1 and will include a range of contingency activities such as simultaneous field maneuvers, computer simulation for command posts and civil defense exercises.
It is planned that during the maneuvers the detection of improvised explosive devices at nuclear power plants, a fire at a semiconductor factory, paralysis of the banking network, terrorism at airports and drone attacks will be practiced, according to the South Korean Ministry of Defense. A total of 13 comprehensive training programs are planned.
The military activities also include a full operational capability assessment, a key procedure for the proposed transfer of operational control from Washington to Seoul.
As part of the exercise, the navy and personnel from the army, police, fire department and other agencies are participating in a joint program to counter chemical, biological, radiological and terrorist threats in the port of Incheon, west of Seoul, according to Navy officials.
Antiviral restrictions are not forgotten either. To prevent the spread of Covid-19, both sides have required military personnel to take tests for the disease, as well as wear masks.
The exercises have caused quite a stir in the region, as tensions over Taiwan and the audacity of US politicians have been troubling the world for several weeks , and few people are interested in the potential emergence of a new conflict region.
Washington's participation in the exercises involuntarily suggests another provocation from the United States. At the same time, in the developing situation, many do not exclude the direction of such a step not only against North Korea, but also against China.
According to Alexei Maslov, Russian orientalist, director of the Institute of Asian and African Countries at Moscow State University, methodical actions can be traced in Washington in building anti-Chinese alliances in Asian regions:
– Officially, the US has not declared any anti-Chinese subtext, but it is obvious that the US is quite methodically creating anti-Chinese alliances in this region. The exercises are in the same row as the creation of a rather serious AUKUS block and the expansion of the QUAD system (strategic dialogue between Australia, India, the USA and Japan on security issues in the Indo-Pacific region – “MK”). Naturally, South Korea is one of the key players here,” the expert explains. – Seoul has not expressed any obvious anti-Chinese slogans lately. Unlike Japan, it does not have serious problems with China.
However, the question of Washington's plans still remains. Given the already existing tensions in Taiwan, Seoul may well become a new point of conflict. According to our expert, the plans of the United States are truly global:
– The task of the United States is to draw South Korea and Japan into a military confrontation with China and in this case complete the formal encirclement of China with various bases. At the same time, one must understand that South Korea is also a confrontation with North Korea. And North Korea is quite actively supported by China.
And it’s really hard to forget about North Korea, given the immediate reaction to the teachings of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who said that Pyongyang is ready to mobilize its “nuclear deterrence forces” at any moment “. He also recalled that North Korea has the right to self-defense. And it looks like a new “valid” answer is expected, which has already become the standard for this region:
“Pyongyang reacts in a rather standard way, it launches missiles towards Japan,” comments Alexei Maslov. – The fact is that it is technically difficult to allow the launch of missiles in the direction of South Korea, since it will fall exactly on its territory, since these are neighboring states. Therefore, most likely, several more launches will be made towards Japan, but, as always, Pyongyang will not comment on anything. He believes that actions reflect attitudes better than any words.
But if the situation with Pyongyang is clear, then Beijing's reaction can be completely different and it is always quite difficult to predict it.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin has already spoken about Pyongyang's reaction to joint exercises. He also warned that “it is worth paying attention to the negative impact of military exercises on the situation on the Korean Peninsula. All parties must act prudently and stop any actions that could increase tension and confrontation and damage mutual trust.”
According to the expert, one should not expect an overly violent reaction from China. For Beijing, Taiwan still remains a priority issue.
– Beijing's switch to the situation with Washington and Seoul is definitely not to be expected. I think Beijing will standardly protest against the conduct of exercises directly near its territory. But to say that he will switch – of course not. The essence of the Taiwan problem and the essence of the exercises with South Korea are completely different. If Taiwan is a vital interest for China, then Korea is rather a sluggish confrontation.
Recall that in mid-August, tensions between South and North Korea again became tangible. Then South Korean President Yun Sok-yeol offered the DPRK economic assistance in exchange for denuclearization. Pyongyang firmly rejected such an initiative, and the sister of the head of North Korea, Kim Yo-jong, called the proposal nonsense and the apogee of stupidity. There were fears that the upcoming exercises of Washington and Seoul could provoke the mobilization of the DPRK nuclear forces.