China’s top diplomat called on South Korea and Japan to form a collaborative alliance with Beijing to “rejuvenate East Asia.”
The head of the Chinese Communist Party’s Foreign Affairs Commission and former foreign minister, Wang Yi, addressed Japanese and South Korean guests at the 2023 International Forum for Trilateral Cooperation, highlighting the difficulty Americans face in distinguishing between Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans.
He emphasized that physical appearances or attempts to assimilate into Western culture would not change their Asian identity.
Wang Yi stressed the importance of embracing their shared heritage, urging China, Japan, and South Korea to foster collective prosperity and revitalize not only East Asia but also the entire Asian region for the benefit of the world.
However, his comments seemed to indirectly criticize the United States, accusing certain external powers of exaggerating ideological differences, creating exclusive alliances, and replacing cooperation with confrontation.
In Seoul and Tokyo, Wang’s racially oriented remarks were likely met with skepticism due to their strained relationship with Beijing and their strong military partnership with Washington.
Both countries rely on the United States to counter China’s growing influence and address the security threats posed by North Korea.
The United States maintains a significant military presence in the region, with over 80,000 personnel stationed between Japan and South Korea.
Professor Joel Atkinson of Hankuk University in Seoul noted that both countries value their alliances with the United States for security reasons and have no intention of relying solely on Beijing.
Earlier this year, Japan and South Korea took steps to improve their strained relationship following North Korea’s launch of long-range ballistic missiles into the sea between the two American allies.
They also released joint statements underscoring their common security interests in the Taiwan Strait, which drew criticism from China.
Experts criticized Wang’s statement, pointing out the significant differences between China and the two countries, as well as the fact that many Japanese and Koreans become American citizens.
Director of the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, Jeff M. Smith, highlighted the irony of Wang Yi’s claim, stating that Koreans and Japanese become Americans daily and become integral parts of American society, whereas becoming Chinese is not an option.
This insensitivity to reality was noted as a flaw in Wang’s argument.
Bonnie Glaser, Asia Director of the George Marshall Fund of the United States, expressed doubt that Japan and South Korea would respond favorably to Wang’s message, questioning whether he truly believed that national interests are less important than physical appearances.
In response to Wang’s remarks, one individual from South Korea humorously tweeted, “If aliens invade, we will join hands with the aliens and attack you.”
According to the Associated Press, Wang Yi overlooked several historical differences between the three Asian countries that continue to contribute to tensions, such as China’s involvement in the Korean War and Japan’s oppressive occupation of China during World War II.