The recent developments in East Asia, such as the détente between South Korea and Japan, South Korea's increasing hostility toward China, and the talk of a liaison office of NATO in Tokyo, have raised alert of observers, as the US escalates confrontation with China. What are the obstacles for East Asia to maintain peace? Global Times (GT) reporter Wang Wenwen discussed these issues with K.J. Noh (Noh), a US-based journalist, political analyst, writer and educator specializing in the geopolitics and political economy of the Asia-Pacific region. He is a member of Veterans for Peace and Pivot to Peace.
GT: It is hyped by some Western media outlets that an East Asian NATO that comprises the US, Japan, South Korea and even China's Taiwan region should be established. What do you think?
Noh: I think it's an act of madness. NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, neither Japan or South Korea is in the North Atlantic. They are all in the Pacific. NATO is a Cold War relic that should have been disbanded after the fall of the Soviet Union. But since then, it served and it still serves as the military arm of US imperialism and US force projection around the world. It comes into the Pacific to threaten China, and talks of preserving peace or upholding human rights, which is hypocrisy beyond belief.
GT: Japan is in talks to open a NATO office. How will it affect regional stability, as the US pursues confrontation with China?
Noh: It will destroy regional stability. Anytime you hear the word "stability" from the US media, they are really talking about destabilization. Anytime you hear the word "deterrence," they are really talking about provocation. It will escalate the threat. It's not just a liaison office, it is an office to prepare for interoperability between the US and Japan.
So it is very threatening. The idea behind this is to expand the theater of war and the number of forces that are pinching China. But it's an extraordinarily dangerous confrontation and provocative act, and everybody in the West would be opposing it.
GT: What are the obstacles for East Asia to maintain peace? What lessons should East Asia draw from the ongoing Ukraine crisis?
Noh: The key obstacle for peace in East Asia is the US. Asia wants peace. China certainly wants peace, but the US wants war. It's good at waging war. I'm talking not just hybrid warfare, greyzone warfare, technological warfare, trade warfare, academic warfare, legal warfare, cultural warfare, information warfare. It's doing all of that. But it is also preparing for shooting war, for kinetic war. It will go to war to maintain its hegemony. The US would rather see the end of the world, rather than the end of their supremacy.
As for the lessons of the Ukraine war, it's important for all the countries in East Asia not to engage in a proxy war and not to be provoked into responding. The US will do everything to cross every red-line to provoke a war. It wants to create a kind of bandwagon strategy against China and get the entire world to sanction China as it has done with Ukraine.
What China is doing is very important, because it has proposed peace and it's acting as the wise mediator. I believe that over the long term peace defeats war, just as the soft defeats the hard, civilization defeats barbarism, ethics defeats wrong. Taking the higher road and engaging with diplomacy and working for peace, China is setting an example for the world that the rest of the world will eventually follow. At this extraordinary, dangerous and difficult moment, it really is the fact that the US wants to trigger war. The US certainly doesn't want peace that China has mediated or ushered in, because that would be just as bad as losing the war, and it would lose its global legitimacy.
We are in a very dangerous moment, but the lessons that we should learn is to look at Ukraine and don't let the US bring war to your shores. We have to work for peace and not be fooled by the lies of a failing patron that is so intent on either having its way or wreaking havoc around the world.
GT: The G7 Summit was held from Friday to Sunday. In recent years, the G7's original nature of economic cooperation has weakened, but its military and ideological nature has continued to increase. What do you think of G7's role as an accomplice of war and economic coercion?
Noh: These countries are going along, not because they see China as a threat, but because the US is actually the threat to them. If they don't bandwagon with the US, there will be mistreated sanctions. In a certain sense, they are an unwilling coalition.
The US wants to create as many gang members as it can to do its bidding to gang up against China, so that they can criticize China and say China is a threat to the rules-based order. It's the US usual propaganda. We can also note that there is a dissension within the G7 itself. France has made some noises about being more independent.
On a foundation level, economic cooperation with China is essential for all the Western states. China is the only major economy that's growing, and the only economy that has the capacity to bring these Western Atlantic states out of the economic morass. If they were thinking rationally and if they had their own interests at heart, they would be seeking to build and strengthen relations with China, and they would do away with this absurd demonization of China.
But to a large extent, the US is the ventriloquist behind the scenes, and the G7 largely are going to be capitulating and repeating the US lies. They will use every symbolic and rhetorical strategy to reinforce their hostility to China. That is a great mistake and a great tragedy.
GT: It seems that South Korea is tilting more toward the US. There has also been a growing negative trend in China-South Korea relations, as South Korea's president touched upon China's core issue, the Taiwan question. Do you think Seoul is jeopardizing its diplomatic balance and losing strategic independence?
Noh: It's true that South Korea is leaning more towards the US. The Yoon administration has put all of its chips onto aligning with the US. The key thing to understand is that inside South Korea's DNA in its history, South Korea has always been a US client state. The state of South Korea was created artificially by the US, by dividing the peninsula into two.
What we're seeing now is a reversion to the historical template. Yoon is giving the US everything it wants. Not long after he was elected, he came up with the South Korean Indo-Pacific strategy. This is essentially the US Indo-Pacific strategy. The US' pivot to Asia strategy is rebranded. It is a plan to prevent China from developing and even to encircle and attack it.
The US is provoking South Korea as a proxy or a pretext to escalate against China. Essentially, the key point is that South Korea does not have strategic independence.
This article was republished from Global Times.