U.S. President Donald Trump has invited South Korea to attend the G7 Summit later this year. Earlier Trump told reporters the G7 is out of date in its current form and he wants to stack it with more “nice countries.” That raised the option of including Korea, Australia, India, Russia and Brazil to the G7 Summit, and it seems Korea will be a full participant rather than a mere observer. Moon said, “I will gladly accept [Trump’s] invitation and Korea will play all possible roles in the areas of quarantine and the economy.”
Korea’s inclusion into the G20 through its recognition of speedily overcoming the 2008 global financial crisis was a monumental achievement for the country. The event signified Korea’s entry onto the global stage from the outskirts. This new invitation is perhaps a similar milestone.
Still, global leaders need to cooperate now more than ever. The U.S. and China are locked in a new Cold War over trade, with the U.S. citing the coronavirus pandemic and China’s draconian interference in Hong Kong. He wants to use the G7 as a battleground targeting China. The U.S. is also leaning on Korea to join the anti-China Economic Prosperity Network, which ostensibly aims to diversify supply chains and could be a good thing. Seoul may be concerned that its acceptance to attend the G7 Summit could be viewed as an affront to Beijing. But Korea’s participation does not necessarily have to undermine its relationship with China. Other countries that are friendly to China do not hesitate to criticize certain of its policies when they go too far.
In short, Korea’s participation in the G7 meeting is a golden opportunity for the world’s 12th-largest economy to play a role befitting its global status. Opportunities like this to discuss global issues with the leaders of major countries do not come often, regardless what Trump’s immediate motivation may be. If excessive steps are pushed to sideline China, Korea could even play a mediating role and earn the gratitude of many others.
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