South Korea’s foreign policy upholds rules-based international order

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The geopolitical tensions such as the conflicts in the Middle East and the war in Ukraine are in a downward spiral and following that South Korea’s foreign policy is becoming a “Global Pivotal State,” centred on actively harnessing the country’s growing strength and capabilities to advance freedom, human rights, peace, and prosperity around the world.

Deputy Minister for Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Korea, Chung Byung-won said Korea’s Global Pivotal State vision is implemented in three distinct stages: globally, regionally, and at the Korean Peninsula level.

He said, Korea’s Global Pivotal State vision begins with their commitment to a diplomacy that upholds a rules-based international order. From the ashes of war, poverty, and authoritarianism, Korea has risen as a beacon of democracy, prosperity, and technological innovation.

“Our success is anchored in our unwavering commitment to democracy, freedom, and human rights,” he said.

The Deputy Minister said that in his speech at the World Journalists Conference (WJC) 2024 with the theme “The role of the media in war journalism and world peace” organised by Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) held in Seoul on 22nd April and attended by 50 journalists from 46 countries.

Referring to the roles of the media in Korea, the Deputy Minister said, Korea is a member of the Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists, a coalition within the United Nations.

“Alongside like-minded partners, we have consistently advocated for the right to freedom of expression and the creation of a safe environment for journalists to perform their duties without undue interference or intimidation. We believe that a free, independent, and pluralistic media is a cornerstone of any democratic system. We will continue to support initiatives that strengthen legal and regulatory frameworks to protect freedom of expression and access to information, and enhance the safety of journalists and media workers,” he said.

A key area of focus for Korea’s GPS vision is the Indo-Pacific region. This region is crucial, encompassing major maritime logistics routes and representing 65% of the world’s population, 62% of global GDP, and 46% of global trade. It holds considerable strategic importance for Korea, including vital sea lanes such as the South China Sea.

Chung Byung-won said, no doubt, maintaining peace, stability, and safety in the Indo-Pacific region is critical to the security of the Korean Peninsula. In recognition of this, the Korean government launched its inaugural comprehensive regional strategy, the “Strategy for a Free, Peaceful, and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region,” in 2022, followed by “The Action Plan for a Free, Peaceful, and Prosperous Indo-Pacific” last year.

“These strategies emphasize our commitment to promoting freedom, peace, and prosperity, strengthening a rules-based order, enhancing democracy and human rights, and assisting regional nations in building their capacities.

“This year, we furthered this commitment by appointing a Special Representative for the Indo-Pacific. This role enhances Korea’s involvement and enriches our strategic dialogues on regional dynamics and policies, marking our active role in shaping the region’s future.

“To advance the vision for a free Indo-Pacific, Korea is committed to forming partnerships with countries that uphold the values of freedom, the rule of law, human rights, and international norms. We will stand with the international community in responding firmly to actions that threaten these universal values and norms.

“Our Indo-Pacific strategy hinges on the robust Korea-US alliance and trilateral cooperation among Korea, Japan, and the United States. We also recognize that ASEAN centrality is a key element of the strategy. Partnerships with countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and India are also essential in pursuing this strategy,” he said.

In January 2024, I attended the inaugural trilateral Indo-Pacific Dialogue between Korea, the US, and Japan. This event provided a meaningful platform to share our assessments of geopolitical trends shaping the Indo-Pacific and to enhance our trilateral cooperation.

“We reaffirmed our commitment to cooperate through regional forums and groupings, including ASEAN and the Pacific Islands Forum. We also emphasized the importance of collaborating to enhance regional economic security, resilience, and development. This includes taking action to combat climate change and engaging with Indo-Pacific partners on issues such as information and communications technology, cyber security, and emerging technologies,” the deputy minister explained.

Meanwhile, this collaboration he said will be showcased at the AI 15 Safety Summit and the Global AI Forum hosted by Korea in 2024.

He added, Korea’s ongoing commitment to maritime security and law enforcement cooperation in accordance with international law, focusing on support for capacity building in the region. Through the Indo-Pacific Strategy, Korea has elevated ASEAN to a key strategic partner in the Indo-Pacific region.

“In 2022, we launched the Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative (KASI) alongside the Indo-Pacific Strategy at the 23rd ASEAN-ROK Summit. Last year, the Korean government officially presented eight core lines of effort to implement KASI.

“We are now focusing on enhancing comprehensive cooperation with ASEAN in areas such as security, defence, and the defence industry, in addition to the existing economic and social sectors. In particular, maritime security cooperation with ASEAN has greatly improved over the past two years,” he reiterated.

According to the Deputy Minister, on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between the ROK and ASEAN, efforts are underway to establish an ASEAN-ROK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership this year. Furthermore, recognizing the growing geopolitical importance and development potential, the ROK hosted the first-ever Korea Pacific Islands Summit in Seoul and Busan in May last year.

The Deputy Minister added, during the summit, President Yoon Suk Yeol reaffirmed the ROK’s commitment to actively engage in and contribute to addressing the climate crisis faced by the Pacific Islands. This summit marked a pivotal moment in expanding the ROK’s diplomatic reach into the Indo-Pacific and bolstering responsible diplomacy through enhanced contributions.

President Yoon pledged a progressive increase in the contributions to the ROK-Pacific Islands Forum Cooperation Fund. –Malaysia World News


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