BEIJING – China criticized Japan and South Korea for signing a military intelligence-sharing pact on Wednesday, saying it will only lead to more tensions with North Korea.
While accusing Japan and South Korea of having “a Cold War mentality,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the agreement will “aggravate antagonism and confrontation on the Korean Peninsula.”
In response to a question from China’s state-run broadcaster CCTV at a media briefing, he said the deal will bring about “new insecure and unstable factors in Northeast Asia, and is not in line with the trend of the times featuring peace and development.
“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is still sensitive and complex,” he said. “While carrying out military cooperation, relevant countries should respect security concerns of regional countries.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday welcomed the pact, saying it will enable increased information sharing and strengthen cooperation between Washington’s two closest allies in the region.
“By sharing appropriate security information, they will enhance their deterrence posture against North Korean aggression and strengthen their ability to defend against continued missile launches and nuclear tests, both of which are explicitly prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he said in a statement.
With the accord, Japan and South Korea are hoping to share more delicate information on regional security, especially regarding North Korea’s rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
The pact, officially called the general security of military information agreement (GSOMIA), was reached despite stiff opposition in South Korea over strengthening military cooperation with Japan.
South Korea’s resentment over Japan’s 1910 to 1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula remains strong, but diplomatic ties between the two countries, both of which have long-standing security alliances with the United States, have improved in recent years.
Japan and South Korea’s initial plan to sign the agreement had to be put off in June 2012, due to a last-minute request from Seoul, which feared potential backlash from the public and parliament.
The postponement, announced about 20 minutes before the planned signing ceremony in Tokyo, reflected how difficult it was for Japan and South Korea to work together in the military field.