Analyst Explains Why US Won’t Be Reducing Troop Numbers in South Korea

© AFP 2022 / YONHAPUS Marines move for a joint military drill by US and South Korea in the southeastern port of Pohang on March 7, 2016
US Marines move for a joint military drill by US and South Korea in the southeastern port of Pohang on March 7, 2016 - Sputnik International
It has been recently reported that after the meeting between the leaderships of North and South Korea, Donald Trump had ordered the Pentagon to look into the possibility of a US troop reduction in the latter. Sputnik spoke to Dr Zhiguang Yin, a lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Exeter to find out how likely such a move is.

Sputnik: So do you see the possible reduction of US troops as being seriously conducive to peace on the Korean peninsula, as this has, after all, been a central demand of Pyongyang.

Dr Zhiguang Yin: First of all I seriously doubt the authenticity of this particular initiative. It seems like the Korean government has quickly responded to this particular comment from Trump saying that there is no confirmation, that there will actually be a deduction of the troop number. It feels like right now all of the information comes from a single source. It feels like this is Donald Trump’s typical move of saying something quite boldly but in the end demanding something in return.

Sputnik: Some in congress have expressed their opposition to the possible reduction of US troops in South Korea, and have argued that this could be the beginnings of decreases US influence in the Asia Pacific, do you agree or is that a bit of an overstatement do you think?

Dr Zhiguang Yin: I think this is completely an overstatement. The number of American troops stationed in South Korea increased in 2014, I think another ranger battalion was sent over to South Korea. First of all by how much? Reducing by how much is not necessarily clear in these short comments. And also whether or not this particular move will go ahead or will be replaced by some other forms of military sanction, we don’t know. Or this could simply be a negotiation strategy implemented by Donald Trump.

Sputnik: There are some who argue that such a move could alter the security dynamic by brining regional powers, like China, Japan & South Korea together to solve issues with the US out of the way, helping to engender peace and cooperation – what do you make of that?

Dr Zhiguang Yin: Well fundamentally the demilitarisation of the Korean peninsula is the ultimately goal for the safekeeping of the entire East Asia. Ultimately, everybody in East Asia would be happy to see the removal of the US troops. Whether or not another form of a sort of security alliance or protection, military protection, would be implemented after the removal of the troops is a whole different range of questions. But definitely if the US is able to remove itself, which is highly unlikely at the current context, but if the US would remove itself from the East Asia, South Korea and in the future from Japan, we would definitely see the alteration of the regional power balance.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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