defence agreement with South Korea as US angers Seoul with demand for $5bn
troop paymentJulian Ryall＠The
The defence ministers of South Korea and China have
agreed to develop their security ties to ensure
stability in north-east Asia, the latest indication that Washington’s
long-standing alliances in the region are fraying.
On the sidelines of regional security talks in Bangkok on Sunday, Jeong
Kyeong-doo, the South Korean minister of defence, and his Chinese counterpart,
Wei Fenghe, agreed to set up more military hotlines
and to push ahead with a visit by Mr Jeong to China next year to “foster bilateral exchanges and cooperation in defence”,
South Korea’s defence ministry said.
That figure is a sharp increase from the $923 million that Seoul paid
this year, which was an 8 per cent increase on the previous year.
Seoul's decision to terminate a key military intelligence sharing pact
with Japan risks sending the "wrong message" to adversaries, said
General Robert B. Abrams, commander of United States Forces Korea
An editorial in Monday’s edition of The Korea Times warned that the
security alliance between the two countries “may
fall apart due to Washington’s blatantly excessive
Mr Trump has previously threatened to withdraw US troops if his demands
are not met, with the editorial accusing the president of regarding the
Korea-US mutual defence treaty “as a property deal to make money”.
The vast majority of Koreans agree, with a recent survey by the Korea
Institute for National Reunification showing that 96
per cent of people are opposed to Seoul paying more for the US military
The General Security of Military Information
Agreement is due to expire at midnight on November 23 and
South Korea insists that it will only agree to an extension if Japan cancels
restrictions on exports of chemicals critical to the South’s microchip
Japan is widely believed to have imposed the restrictions as the latest
incident in its troubled relationship with South Korea, which includes the
issue of compensation for labourers put to work during Japan’s colonial rule of
the Korean Peninsula.
The two nations' defence ministers held discussions with Mark Esper, the
US defence secretary, at the weekend but hopes that a breakthrough might
materialise came to nothing.
Just days before an agreement designed to protect the allies from North
Korean belligerence runs out, Tokyo and Seoul merely reiterated their long-held
The US demanded in July that Japan pay $8
billion a year to keep 54,000 US military personnel in the country,
Foreign Policy reported late last week.
Tokyo currently contributes $2 billion a year
to US military costs in Japan.
“This kind of
demand, not only the exorbitant number, but the way it is being done, could trigger anti-Americanism”, Bruce Klinger, an
analyst at the Heritage Foundation think tank, told Foreign Policy.
“If you weaken
alliances, and potentially decrease deterrence and US troop presence, that benefits North Korea, China and Russia, who see
the potential for reduced US influence and support for our allies”.
Daniel Pinkston, a professor of international relations at the Seoul
campus of Troy University, was more blunt in his assessment.
extortion”, he told The Telegraph. “It’s little more than a mob boss going
around and demanding protection money. The numbers
that the US is demanding are politically impossible for Seoul and Tokyo
to swallow and that is just fuelling resentment."