The Korea Herald


Seoul and Beijing to set up defense hotline

By Korea Herald

Published : July 31, 2012 - 20:33

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The defense ministries of South Korea and China will establish a hotline communications channel, the Ministry of National Defense announced Tuesday.

The nations also signed a memorandum of understanding to increase exchange between their militaries during the second strategic defense talks held in Beijing. The MOU includes clauses regarding working-level talks between defense policy specialists, cooperative search and rescue missions, and overseas humanitarian missions, the Defense Ministry said.

The talks were held between South Korea’s Vice Minister of National Defense Lee Yong-geol and Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the People’s Liberation Army.
“The hotline between the defense ministries shows the two militaries’ intentions to work closely together when security issues arise,” a South Korean Defense Ministry official said. He added that Korea is the third country with which the Chinese defense ministry has installed a hotline after Russia and the United States.

The issue of forming a military intelligence sharing agreement was again put forward by the South Korean delegation at the talks.

Regarding the timing of the talks, the ministry said that the decision to go ahead with them according to schedule as the issue is of importance to national security. The diplomatic relations between Seoul and Beijing have recently taken a sudden downturn due to developments surrounding South Korean human rights activist Kim Young-hwan. Kim and three others were released earlier this month after more than three months of detention, during which he claims that he was tortured.

Along with the MOU and the hotline, South Korea and China agreed to send military officers on language courses, and to push ahead the projects agreed to during last year’s defense ministers’ talks.

Last year, the two countries agreed to discuss establishing ties to enable military logistics support during overseas humanitarian missions.

Regarding the language exchange program, the Defense Ministry said that officers selected for the course will also be part of further education and training exchange programs the two countries plan to establish that will involve South Korean and Chinese officers studying at the other nation’s army academies.

Along with issues regarding military cooperation between South Korea and China, Seoul officials also requested China to play a “constructive” role in issues regarding security on the Korean Peninsula, and emphasized that while Seoul remains open to dialogue with North Korea provocations will prompt military actions.

By Choi He-suk  (