When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived on the tarmac in Taipei, she was greeted by the Republic of China’s foreign minister and a flock of government officials. But, when she arrived in South Korea, the story was a lot different.
At the bottom of the ramp, there were only members of the US Embassy turned out to welcome her.
Yoon administration and the ROK National Assembly did not send any delegation to welcome Pelosi’s arrival last night. Pelosi was not pleased about the situation, multiple reports said. https://t.co/hisVv9gNHB
— Korea Pro (@southkoreapro) August 4, 2022
This is how the Financial Times described the scene.
When Pelosi last visited South Korea as House Speaker in 2015, she met then president Park Geun-hye and South Korea’s then foreign minister.
But Yoon’s office said this week that he was unable to meet Pelosi because he was on holiday, while foreign minister Park Jin is in Cambodia for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Yoon, who is believed to be at home in Seoul, instead spoke to Pelosi by phone on Thursday afternoon. When Pelosi arrived in South Korea on Wednesday evening, Yoon was at the theatre and then had dinner with some actors.
“I can’t understand that the parliamentary leader of our ally visited Korea and our president is not meeting her. Being on vacation cannot be an excuse,” Yoo Seung-min, a high-profile former lawmaker from Yoon’s conservative ruling People’s Power party, wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
“What can we make of the fact that he watched a play at a theatre and had a gathering [with the actors], but is still not meeting the US House Speaker?”
While I supported Pelosi’s trip (Pelosi’s Planned Trip to the Republic of China Leaves the ChiComs Gnashing Teeth But Drawing Bipartisan Support in Congress), her junket through the Western Pacific demonstrated that US power is slipping from our grip. I’ve previously posted on how China is actively using their Hunter Biden strategy to buy heads of states, if not entire governments, on island nations that used to be virtual protectorates of the United States and Australia (China Seeks to Buy Eight Pacific Island Nations While Joe Biden and His State Department Are Comatose). Unfortunately, rather than challenge these moves head-on, we’ve sat on the sidelines and let China sign deals that give the Chinese military basing rights and the right to intervene in those counties to put down civil disorder militarily.
Another clue that the Biden White House is out of ideas is that the White House and the Department of Defense tried to prevent Pelosi’s trip for fear of making China’s President Xi angry. When what passes for our national leadership is afraid of what our primary strategic adversary will do if they had of one of our branches of government visits a US ally, we are edging towards a strategy of preemptive surrender.
Reports indicate that South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s calculated disrespect to Pelosi was driven by his fear of China. This is from the Financial Times article quoted previously:
Kim Jae-chun, a professor of political science at Sogang University in Seoul and a former adviser to Park’s conservative government, said Yoon “seems reluctant to meet Pelosi as he feels burdened by Beijing’s growing criticism of Seoul’s diplomatic and security policies”.
Kim added: “This gives the wrong impression, both domestically and internationally, that he is trying to curry favour with Beijing. Pelosi is a very important US figure. When the leaders of Taiwan and Japan all meet her, Yoon not meeting her is not a good choice.”
The Washington Post makes a similar observation:
But [President Yoon’s] glaring absence on the global stage fired up critics, who accused the conservative South Korean president of deliberately shunning Pelosi out of concerns about retaliation from Beijing. Her controversial visit to Taiwan escalated tensions between the self-governing island and Beijing.
Yoon, who took office in May, pledged to “rebuild” the U.S.-South Korean alliance, which he said deteriorated under outgoing liberal president Moon Jae-in. The Moon administration sought to work with allies of North Korea, notably China, to help broker a peace deal with Pyongyang.
While Yoon vowed a stronger political stance on Beijing, South Korea still walks a fine line. South Korea’s right-leaning Chosun Ilbo newspaper ran an editorial titled, “Yoon’s avoidance of Pelosi meeting may send wrong signals to the U.S. and China.” The paper warned the South Korean government that a “submissive attitude” toward China can alter geopolitical relationships.
I would submit that the only reason that a man elected on a “get tough with China” platform is keeping his head down is that he no longer trusts the US to back him up if he goes nose-to-nose with Beijing.
Totally unrelated, I’m sure, is this:
At the time of Pelosi's arrival in South Korea, #NorthKorea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty "legally and has the right to self-defense." This was reported by the media with reference to the statement of the permanent mission of the DPRK to the UN. pic.twitter.com/c2rP3nxf1g
— Valeria (@Valere_ia) August 3, 2022
The weakness shown by the Biden administration is a danger to world peace. Our enemies do what they will, our friends are terrified, and Biden trembles in anticipation of the next revelation of the business deals by the crime family he leads.