April 30, 2021 11:08
Korea has settled for a half-in, half-out solution under pressure to join the U.S.-led Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, an informal anti-China alliance with Australia, India and Japan.
A government official on Thursday said Korea "has decided to partially join the Quad by cooperating with the forum in coronavirus vaccines, climate change and new technologies." President Moon Jae-in is expected to make the agreement with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden when they meet in Washington late next month, he added.
Officially, the main points on the summit agenda will be the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. Cheong Wa Dae on Friday said Moon and Biden will hold their first summit on May 21. White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement, "Moon's visit will highlight the ironclad alliance between the United States and [Korea], and the broad and deep ties between our governments, people and economies."
The Quad has been expanding cooperation in various fields such as vaccine deliveries and diversifying the supply chain of semiconductors away from over-dependency on China.
The U.S. wants to turn it into a "Quad Plus" with the Philippines and Vietnam and has repeatedly put pressure on Korea to join through various channels. But Seoul has been reluctant and insisted there has been no "formal request" from Washington yet.
"The U.S. is asking us to join a Quad Plus," a ruling party official said. "But we think we can cooperate with the Quad countries on a case-by-case basis in fields where we have a contribution to make." Another official said, "We're partially joining the Quad at the request of the U.S. because we need to secure more vaccines. But it's not full membership."
The government is wary of China, which has repeatedly asked Korea if it intends to join. Beijing accuses the Quad of being "cliquish" and taking a "cold-war-era approach."
It remains to be seen whether the halfway house the government has settled on will satisfy either side.
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