SEOUL, March 30 (Korea Bizwire) — Rejecting assertions that South Korea could end up as a shrimp among whales in the brewing trade war between the United States and China, trade minister Kim Hyun-chong instead said via a live video presentation on Facebook that Asia’s fourth largest economy “must quickly transform into a dolphin and push forward”.
Kim said, “Now that the South Korea-U.S. FTA matters have been settled, it’s time to pursue the New Southern and the New Northern policies.”
Regarding his responsibilities in the negotiations over amendments to the free trade agreement with the U.S., Kim referenced his previous role as trade minister when the South Korea-U.S. FTA agreement was first developed as factoring into his favor.
“The president granted me complete authority over the entire trade negotiations. The fact that this is my second go at trade negotiations with the U.S. may be why the president placed such trust in me,” Kim said.
Kim also shared some backstory on his improved relationship with his American counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
“Mr. Lighthizer and I previously worked together at the same law firm, but we didn’t really get along from the very start. After we wrapped up our first video conference call, he told American journalists he ‘needed a drink because of that unpleasant minister Kim’.”
From that rough start, Kim explained that they were now on better terms and termed their relationship as bordering on “bromance”.
In his presentation, Kim also advocated for the construction of underwater tunnels.
Saying he had stated his belief in the need of underwater tunnels to President Moon Jae-in in a lengthy private meeting, Kim said making use of the hyperloop proposed by American entrepreneur Elon Musk in the tunnel is an idea that should be considered.
Experts have previously proposed an underwater pathway linking South Chungcheong Province with the Chinese city of Weihai that would provide South Korea a road to the Eurasian heartland.
On March 19, Li Xiguang of Tsinghua University spoke of the need to link the Korean peninsula and China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative to serve as the center of the “super Northeast Asia economic zone” at a seminar in South Chungcheong.
Li’s comments are notable as they revealed the prospect of an underwater tunnel is a subject of interest in China as well.
The author of Xi Jinping’s government philosophy of “the Chinese Dream” as well as the “One Belt One Road” initiative, Li is active both as an academic and as a voice in Chinese politics. He is a professor of journalism at Tsinghua University and is a vice-chairman of the Journalism Education Committee in the Ministry of Education.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)