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FRIDAY, December 02, 2022
Seoul sparks Beijing's anger over US-led alliance, supply chain pledge

Seoul sparks Beijing's anger over US-led alliance, supply chain pledge

TUESDAY, May 24, 2022

South Korean leader Yoon Suk-yeol vowed to build a supply chain for semiconductors and batteries spanning the Indo-Pacific during talks at the first Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) summit on Monday.

However the IPEF, which also features Thailand, was condemned by China as “a strategy for destroying peace”.

The US-led economic alliance was launched on Monday and followed Saturday’s South Korea-US summit, where the presidents of both countries pledged close cooperation and economic ties.

“The launch of the IPEF is a meaningful first step in demonstrating the will of solidarity and cooperation among countries in the region in a rapidly changing economic environment,” President Yoon said at the IPEF summit, with US President Joe Biden among leaders of 13 countries participating by video link. Other nations taking part were Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

“As a nation with core competencies in high-tech industries such as chips, batteries and future vehicles, we will build a mutually beneficial supply chain” with countries in the Indo-Pacific region, Yoon said.

He also pledged to “lead new technological innovations such as AI, data and 6G”, and “contribute to building digital infrastructure and bridging the digital divide”. South Korea claims to be the first country to launch and commercialise a high-speed 5G network nationwide.

Lastly, Yoon promised that Seoul would “actively cooperate in the clean energy and decarbonisation fields and build a carbon reduction infrastructure through bold investments”.

Participating members jointly declared they would strengthen cooperation in four areas: trade, supply chains, clean energy, decarbonisation and infrastructure, and tax and anti-corruption.

The member nations will seek to “ensure access” to key raw and processed materials, semiconductors, critical minerals and clean energy technology through the alliance. They plan to “accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technologies” to decarbonise their economies and build resilience to climate impacts. They are committed to “promoting fair competition” by enacting and enforcing effective and robust taxes, as well as anti-money laundering and anti-bribery regimes.

Yoon has repeatedly expressed enthusiasm and commitment to the US-led economic alliance.

He told local reporters, “IPEF is not a trade negotiation with a certain content like a free trade agreement, but a process of making a wide range of economic and trade-related rules in the Indo-Pacific region.

“We must participate in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. If we are left out in making the rules, it will greatly damage national interests.”

‘Strategy for destroying peace’

China, however, was quick to condemn the new alliance, branding it “a strategy for destroying peace”.

In remarks on Sunday after the Korea-US summit had ended, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy is “doomed to fail”.

“Facts will prove that the so-called Indo-Pacific strategy is essentially a strategy for creating divisions, a strategy for inciting confrontation, and a strategy for destroying peace,” he said.

South Korea’s Foreign Minister Park Jin responded by saying China seemed to be looking at only “one side” of the issue.

Containing China was not important, he added, rather it was about how to find and secure a future growth engine amid the newly unfolding Indo-Pacific order.

Asked if he had any concerns after participating in the IPEF summit on Monday, Yoon said: “Even if we strengthen our alliance with the United States in security and technology, it does not mean that we think our economic cooperation with China is unimportant.

“So I do not believe it is reasonable for China to be overly sensitive about this matter,” he told CNN in an interview.

The Korea Herald

Asia News Network

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