Global security challenges brought on by COVID-19 were the KEY FOCUS of this year’s Seoul Defense Dialogue which were held VIRTUALLY for the FIRST time for THREE days until today.
TOP security experts STRESSED the need for MORE global INTERACTION amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China and other issues.
For more our defense correspondent Kim Ji-yeon is in the studio.

Ji-yeon I hear that for the first time the dominant theme of the event was NOT centered on North Korea?

That’s right.
“Emerging Security Challenges: Overcoming through Solidarity and Cooperation” was the slogan for this year’s Seoul Defense Dialogue.
The event focused on the changing dynamics of the so-called “liberal international order” and ways to build cooperation between nations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is a major shift from previous years, where the emphasis was on inter-Korean relations and challenges regarding North Korean provocations hampering progress in denuclearization talks.
In a recorded address on Tuesday, Seoul’s Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo stressed the need for stronger international cooperation, as the outbreak has had a considerable impact on nearly all aspects of global affairs, including security.

(Korean , Sept. 1) tv
“Despite continued efforts, the world faces concerns about a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, so there is a dire need for unity and cooperation between nations, now more than ever.”

He said the South Korean government has been sharing its know-how in disease containment with foreign military attaches in the country.
It includes the early adoption of screening and preventive measures, contact tracing of confirmed patients utilizing IT technology, and the operation of residential treatment centers for asymptomatic patients or patients with mild symptoms.

Now the event takes place at a time of tough security challenges that have been aggravated by the pandemic.

That’s right
The pandemic has underscored the concept of traditional and non-traditional security challenges throughout the event.
Security experts highlighted the need for the international community to better deal with borderless, non-traditional security issues, particularly the global efforts to stop the spread of infectious diseases amid the struggle for hegemony between the U.S and China.
Some of the experts say such challenges have different characteristics than traditional security issues involving nuclear and conventional weapons that prevailed during the so-called ‘liberal international order.’
They seem to agree that the U.S.-led order, grounded on the norms of open market and democratic governance, has been significantly weakened, which have led to a higher risk of conventional war.

(English , Sept. 2) – SDD
“The risk of high-intensity conflict is now substantially higher than we had imagined it might have been even five years ago. And so whilst we face a vast range of new security threats which requires us to think very carefully about how our armed forces can be designed and constructed to respond to those non-traditional security challenges.”

The experts were divided though, on whether the competition between China and the U.S. would force other countries particularly those in East Asia including South Korea to pick sides, and if choosing the wrong side could have dire consequences.
Some experts say the notion of such a dichotomy is outdated, a vestige of the Cold War or other times in the past where the world faced more traditional security issues, unlike the non-traditional security issues that have emerged in more recent years.

So what is being proposed to promote global collaboration on these fronts?

One suggestion that was raised at the event, is to restore confidence in multinational organizations such as the United Nations or UN agencies, including the World Health Organization, which is facing a major crisis after U.S. President Donald Trump announced U.S. withdrawal from the global health body.
Experts were unanimous in their concern that U.S. leadership on the international stage could wane further if it doesn’t reengage with multinational organizations, and called on Washington to refrain from actions that further encourage nationalism and protectionism.

Thank you Ji-yeon for that report.

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