Seoul’s Tilt Towards Tokyo Could Lead to Worst-Case Scenario for Beijing

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST — China is finding itself falling into a strategic nightmare with the first sign of a Washington-Tokyo­-Seoul military alliance at its ­doorstep after South Korea hinted it would share missile intelligence with Japan, analysts say.

South Korea’s Ministry of ­Defence only said it could share with Japan the information on North Korean missiles gathered via a US-supplied ­anti-missile system. But that is a dangerous step in the eyes of ­Beijing, as it could knit Tokyo and Seoul closer in military cooperation down the road.

Both Japan and South Korea are military allies of the United States, but Seoul is always reluctant to engage in bilateral military cooperation with Tokyo because of territorial disputes and wartime atrocities suffered by Koreans.

However, Seoul’s stance changed on Thursday.

In his regular press conference, the South Korean defence ministry spokesman said information sharing with Japan would be possible, citing a memorandum signed in 2014 by the US, South Korea and Japan regarding Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes, Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported.

This modest start could lead to wider information-sharing ­between South Korea and Japan, and remotely, a military alliance, said Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military analyst who previously worked as an instructor for the PLA’s Second Artillery Corps, the former strategic missile force.

“This could mean a three-party alliance, rather than two-sided alliances [of the US and Japan, and the US and South Korea], and this would pose a damaging threat to the stability of Northeast Asia,” Song said.

If South Korea drifts into the orbit of the US and Japan, China’s influence on the Korean peninsula could be badly compromised.

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