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Opposition blames Yoon’s ‘China-exclusionary’ policies for South Korea’s G7 summit exclusion

Presidential office says this year’s invitation based on Africa, Mediterranean theme

April 21, 2024 - 14:31 By Kim Arin
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (5th from left on the bottom row) poses for photos with global leaders during a group photo session at the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 20, 2023. (Presidential Office)

The Democratic Party of Korea said Sunday that President Yoon Suk Yeol’s foreign policies, which it perceives as isolating China, were the reason behind South Korea's exclusion from this year’s Group of Seven summit scheduled for July in Italy.

The major opposition party said the exclusion in the forthcoming G7 summit “comes as South Korea, under Yoon, has been strengthening its solidarity with Western countries including the US and Japan at the expense of our relations with China.”

The party said the Yoon administration, as a result of its hardline policies against China, “has effectively excluded itself from a crucial forum for discussion on the war in Ukraine, the conflict in the Middle East, the new Cold War in the Korean Peninsula and other rapidly unfolding international events.”

“The Yoon administration must abandon its biased foreign and security policies, and take a pragmatic approach to diplomacy that serves South Korea’s national interests,” the party said.

“Some are saying the biased stance Yoon has been taking with his foreign policies is actually a risk for South Korea,” the party said, adding that being sidelined at the G7 summit “invites the administration to reflect on its failed foreign andg security policies.”

Other minor opposition parties joined in on bashing Yoon for his administration’s alignment with the US and Japan over the exclusion from the G7 summit.

The Rebuilding Korea Party led by Cho Kuk, who was justice minister for former President Moon Jae-in, said South Korea “was not invited to the G7 summit, which is known as a ‘club of leading countries.’” “This is because Yoon’s one-sided foreign policies centering on the US and Japan have led to our shrinking presence in the international arena,” the party said.

In a release late Saturday, the presidential office explained that the key theme of the G7 discussions this year was issues concerning Africa and the Mediterranean region, with Italy serving as the rotating president.

“Countries are invited to G7 meetings based on the theme,” the Yoon office said. “We understand and respect the decision of Italy, as this year’s chair, to invite countries dealing with issues linked to Africa and the Mediterranean.”

The two parties’ respective positions on China had been a major point of contention throughout the National Assembly election campaign.

Han Dong-hoon, who led the ruling People Power Party through the election, said at rallies and public appearances that a Democratic Party victory in the Assembly election “could turn South Korea pro-China.”

The Democratic Party leader Rep. Lee Jae-myung said Yoon was “hurting economic partnerships with China” with the president’s emphasis on “value-based diplomacy that prioritize ‘like-minded allies.’”

When the next Assembly begins its term on May 30, the Yoon administration and the ruling party face the pressure of working with an almost two-thirds opposition legislature.