Nancy Pelosi’s high-profile trip to Asia includes a series of high-profile meetings: talks with the prime ministers of Singapore and Malaysia; a meeting with the president of Taiwan; and possibly this weekend with the prime minister of Japan.
Missing from this list is the South Korean president, who missed an in-person meeting with the speaker of the House of Representatives while on vacation in Seoul.
Ms Pelosi arrived in South Korea on Wednesday night. Yoon was attending a theatrical performance in northern Seoul at the time, taking selfies and having dinner with comedians about a subway station worker.
Mr Yin’s office explained that he was unable to meet with the US leader in person.
“I got questions about whether the president avoided meeting with the Speaker of the House because he was wary of China,” his spokesman told Washington post“All these matters have been decided on the basis of comprehensive consideration of our country’s national interests.”
Instead, the allies held a 40-minute conference call on Thursday.
According to the content of the call, the two discussed the U.S. alliance with South Korea and “deterrence” against North Korea.
For her part, the speaker of the House of Representatives appeared to be satisfied with the trip to South Korea, which included a conversation with the speaker of South Korea’s National Assembly and a visit to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.
“A relationship that began years ago with a sense of urgency and security has become the warmest friendship,” Ms Pelosi said at a news conference with South Korean leaders.
“We want to advance security, economics and governance in an inter-parliamentary approach,” she added.
Inside, the perceived snub was met with mixed reactions.
Kim Eui-kyeom, a member of the South Korean opposition party, praised Mr. Yoon for jumping ship, saying he avoided “jumping into the flames of the Sino-US conflict” that has plagued Ms. Pelosi’s itinerary, especially the controversial one in Taiwan.
“Yin avoiding Pelosi meeting could send wrong signal to US and China,” right-leaning Chosun Ilbo The newspaper argued in an editorial that it warned of Xi’s “submissive attitude.”
Mr Yin, who took office in May, argued on the campaign trail that coexistence with the US and China was possible. The former is South Korea’s main defense partner and the latter is South Korea’s largest trading partner.
“His presidency is still in the early stages, and Yoon has to take a good course,” said Choi Jin, director of the Institute for Presidential Leadership Think Tank, based in Seoul. Tell Wall Street Journal.
Mr Yin has not always bypassed China’s will.
His participation in a NATO summit in Madrid in June angered China, and this month the South Korean military will resume full-scale military exercises with the United States.