Friday, May 02, 2008

Foreign Policy 101 for Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu

2008 Olympic Torch
Chinese Protectors of the Flame
(Image from Wikipedia)

In an article, "Opposition slams Lee Myung-bak's 'humble diplomacy'," written for the Yonhap News Agency (April 30, 2008), Shin Hae-in reports upon the reaction of Sohn Hak-kyu, chairman of the leftist United Democratic Party, to violence by Chinese in Seoul last Monday, when over 6,000 Chinese gathered to 'protect' the Olympic torch as it passed through the center of Seoul.

Some of the Chinese students among the 6,000 'protectors of the flame' attacked small groups protesting China's policies toward Tibet and toward North Korean refugees, striking the protesters with flag poles, beating them with their fists, or throwing stones and bottles at them.

Think about that for a moment. Over 6,000 Chinese gather in Seoul and some of them attack Koreans and a handful of foreigners for peacefully protesting China's policies. As you can imagine, Koreans don't much appreciate being attacked in their own country by foreigners from China, especially given the rumors that the Chinese Embassy had contacted Chinese students studying in Korea and strongly urged them to attend and 'protect' the torch.

Now, let's consider Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu's analysis of this Chinese insult to Korea's sovereignty:
The chairman of South Korea's main opposition party fired a salvo at President Lee Myung-bak Wednesday, claiming that his "cream puff diplomacy" is embarrassing the country.

Sohn Hak-kyu, leader of the United Democratic Party, asserted that Lee's low-key posture toward the United States and Japan has resulted in China's arrogant attitude towards a riot by Chinese demonstrators during Sunday's Beijing Olympic torch relay in Seoul.

"Instead of making an earnest apology about the violent action its demonstrators conducted here, the Chinese government has called it a 'reasonable move' to protect the torch," Sohn said during the party's senior members meeting Wednesday. "Lee's humble diplomacy is belittling South Korea before China and other countries."
So, let's see if I understand this. Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu's point is that President Lee Myung-bak is weakening South Korea and thereby encouraging China to treat it with disdain because Lee is strengthening relations with the United States and Japan.

Chairman Sohn's analysis defies not just basic thinking in political science, it also defies common sense. Stronger relations with the US and Japan strengthen Korea's position toward China.

As for China's disdain toward Korea, it far more likely stems from the weakening alliance with the US and deteriorating relations with Japan during the 10 years of Korea's leftwing administrations, when Korea consciously moved toward closer relations with China.

President Lee Myung-bak understands this and has been moving to repair this foreign policy damage that had left South Korea relatively isolated and weak toward China.

Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu, apparently, doesn't want to understand.

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At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do I detect Korean politics seeping into this blog?


At 12:26 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Occasionally. Are you referring to something specific?

Jeffery 'Obtuse' Hodges

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At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post.


At 9:47 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

This one? Odd...

Jeffery 'Ur-Obtuse' Hodges

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At 10:54 PM, Blogger John B said...

Politics has a habit of seeping into everything on the internet. Some of it got into my own blog, and I've never been able to clean the resulting mold out of the crevices. Scrubbing with bleach and dialectics seems to help.

At 4:46 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Bleach sounds good, but is dialectics good for the environment?

And which brand would you suggest? Aristotelian? Hegelian? Marxian?

I've found the Hegelian ineffective and the Marxian too destructive. Maybe the Aristotelian would work best.

What do you think?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops. I'm the obtuse one. :0 *smacks side of head* I need to read more carefully.


At 9:33 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I did wonder if the S. were some other person pretending to be the divine Ms. S.

We all have our lapses.

Jeffery Hodges

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