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South Korea sees Taiwan Strait as national security concern: Scholar

Taiwan scholar says South Korea will stand up to China to safeguard regional stability

Amphibious landing training during Talisman Sabre (Australia Army photo)

Amphibious landing training during Talisman Sabre (Australia Army photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Seoul will stand up to Beijing in the future as its perception of the Chinese government deteriorates, according to a report published by the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR).

In a paper titled “South Korea’s rising concern over Taiwan reflected in ‘Talisman Sabre 2021’ exercise and U.S.-Japan-ROK vice foreign ministerial meeting,” INDSR scholar Wang Tsun-yen (王尊彥) said that South Korea’s position on the Taiwan Strait situation is evident by its participation in recent military drills.

He noted that in mid-July, South Korea sent troops to partake in the multinational Talisman Sabre 2021 military exercise in Australia. The exercise was seen as an affirmation by participating countries of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, Wang said.

The scholar said South Korea’s participation in the military maneuvers is a message to China that if it undermines regional stability, including in the Taiwan Strait, Seoul may oppose Beijing’s actions and respond accordingly.

Wang added that South Korea and the U.S. will hold a large-scale military drill from Aug. 16-26, which he suggested is a follow-up to the joint statement the two nations issued in May regarding the strait.

At that time, people suspected that South Korean President Moon Jae-in had been pressured by President Joe Biden into making the announcement. However, Seoul’s recent actions prove that its resolve to safeguard regional stability is sincere, Wang said.

The scholar also mentioned that the South Korean public’s perception of China has deteriorated in recent years. This is partially due to the South Korean media, which has expressed that "something occurring in the Taiwan Strait may lead to something on the Korean Peninsula," he added.

Wang said that if South Koreans continue to regard China as a regional threat, they will support the government in defending the nation’s security interests.