South Korean president backs US war plans in summit with Biden

South Korean President Moon Jae-in traveled to Washington last week for a summit with US President Joe Biden. The meeting on Friday was Moon’s first trip abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic began, as well as Biden’s second in-person summit with a foreign leader, following Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s visit in April. Biden’s emphasis on US alliances with Japan and South Korea at the beginning of his term is indicative of Washington’s growing war preparations aimed at China.

Couched in the empty terms of adherence to “democratic norms, human rights, and the rule of law at home and abroad,” the summit’s purpose was to shore up the military alliance between Washington and Seoul. Under former President Donald Trump, Washington sharply ratcheted up tensions with Beijing over Taiwan by increasingly calling into question the “One China” policy, which the Biden administration has only intensified.

The “One China” policy states that Taiwan is a part of China, a fact which Washington recognizes as it has had no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei since 1979. Beijing has stated that any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence will lead to war, particularly as it fears the island will be turned into a launch pad for US attacks against the Chinese mainland.

Moon and Biden’s joint statement released following the summit makes clear that Seoul has signed onto these war plans behind the backs of the South Korean people. Seoul attempted to claim afterwards that, as the statement did not directly reference China, there should be no reason for Beijing to be upset and dismissed the latter’s concerns. In fact, the joint statement included a veritable checklist of anti-China phrases.