Seoul’s Foreign Minister Nominee Cho Tae-yul Calls for Strategic Balance with China and U.S.

SEOUL: In a recent parliamentary hearing, Cho Tae-yul, the nominee for South Korea's foreign minister, emphasized the need to manage relations with China while maintaining the alliance with the United States, noting the challenge in achieving an "absolute" balance between the two.

According to Yonhap News Agency, during the confirmation hearing at the National Assembly, he referred to China as a "partner" with whom South Korea has many areas of cooperation, despite existing conflicts. Cho, a retired diplomat and former ambassador to the United Nations, was nominated last month for the role of foreign minister. He remarked that while conflicts with China exist, opportunities for cooperation are more prevalent, particularly in economic and human exchange sectors.

In his opening remarks, Cho also outlined his commitment to strengthening the South Korea-U.S. alliance and fostering future cooperation with China. He underscored the importance of accelerating cooperation with the United States and Japan in light of the growing missile and nuclear threats from North Korea. Cho mentioned the recent escalation of tensions by North Korea, which included firing artillery shells near the inter-Korean border.

Cho stressed the urgency of addressing North Korea's nuclear ambitions and the need for international cooperation to persuade Pyongyang to pursue denuclearization through dialogue. He also addressed South Korea's approach to compensating Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's colonial rule, reiterating support for the government's plan of third-party compensation funded by South Korean companies.

Addressing concerns raised by Rep. Kim Kyung-hyup of the Democratic Party, Cho contended that the growing cooperation between Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo is a response to the strengthening ties among Pyongyang, Beijing, and Moscow. He also noted that Seoul is considering directly addressing the issue of China's forced repatriation of North Korean defectors with Beijing.

During the hearing, Cho responded to inquiries about his alleged involvement in a judicial power abuse scandal under former President Park Geun-hye's administration. He clarified his role in consultations with a top court official, asserting that it was part of a routine procedure and not indicative of judicial manipulation.

Cho Tae-yul's statements during the hearing reflect South Korea's strategic approach to balancing its diplomatic relations with major global powers, amidst ongoing regional security challenges.

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