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International relations

China's Wang Yi dismisses West's Five Eyes as Cold War relic

In Seoul, top diplomat slams possible expansion of intelligence-sharing alliance

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, left, meets his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong in Seoul on Sept. 15.   © Yonhap via Reuters

SEOUL -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday condemned Western countries' Five Eyes intelligence alliance as a Cold War relic, preemptively pushing back against U.S. moves to include other countries like South Korea in the network.

While visiting Seoul, Wang was asked what he thinks of the prospect of South Korea joining the Five Eyes, as proposed in draft legislation in the U.S. In response, the minister told reporters the alliance "is completely a product of the Cold War -- it is left behind already."

The current grouping comprises the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The draft bill would require the U.S. government to look at "opportunities to expand intelligence sharing with South Korea, Japan, India and Germany."

Wang -- on the last stop of an Asian tour that also took him to Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore -- spoke to the media after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong. The visit comes with the U.S. and China vying for influence in the region.

Wang and Chung discussed a range of issues, including North Korea's nuclear program.

Pyongyang has made its presence felt in recent days, announcing on Monday that it successfully tested a new long-range cruise missile over the weekend, raising tensions on the peninsula. The U.S. and Japan condemned the test as harmful for regional stability, while South Korea said its military was reviewing it.

Again on Wednesday, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, South Korea's military said.

Wang downplayed the test-firings, saying North Korea is not the only country that makes military moves. "All of us should make efforts to the direction of resuming talks," he said.

To address the North Korean threat and push for talks with the reclusive country, high-ranking diplomats from the U.S., Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo on Tuesday. The three parties agreed to cooperate closely for complete denuclearization and stable peace on the Korean Peninsula, by working to resume talks with Pyongyang quickly, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry.

Chung asked Wang for China's continuous support of such efforts, calling the country a key partner in the pursuit of peace.

The South Korean foreign minister also wished China well as host of the Beijing Winter Olympics next year, emphasizing the games as a symbol of overcoming the pandemic. "We wish that the relay Olympics in Northeast Asia, which started from Pyeongchang in 2018 to Tokyo in 2021 and Beijing in 2022, will be hosted successfully," Chung said.

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