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South Koreans believe China likely to be biggest security threat in 10 years
The Associated Press (apwire)     Print Article 
Published 2006-03-20 17:24 (KST)   
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ More than a third of South Koreans believe China will be their country's biggest security threat in 10 years, according to survey results reported Monday.

The newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported that 37.7 percent of respondents to the poll said they believed China would be South Korea's largest threat after 10 years, followed by 23.6 percent who selected Japan. North Korea was chosen by 20.7 percent of respondents, followed by the United States, which was picked by 14.8 percent.

The poll, commissioned by the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a state-run think tank, interviewed 1,002 people in December and had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points. The think tank said it conducted the survey for internal reference and refused to release the full results, although it confirmed details of the newspaper report.

The results contrasted with similar surveys in recent years that showed South Koreans were increasingly turning toward China and away from their traditional ally, the United States.

Yun Deok-min, a professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, interpreted the results as reflecting negative views South Koreans have toward China because of a dispute over Chinese claims to an ancient Korean kingdom, as well as concerns over Beijing's growing economic influence over North Korea.

South Korea hopes to engage North Korea, reduce their economic gap and eventually reunite. However, North Korea's growing economic dependence on China has raised concerns that greater Chinese involvement could hinder unification of the Korean Peninsula.

China is South Korea's No. 1 trading partner, with two-way trade topping US$100 billion last year. China and South Korea are also cooperating closely in efforts to bring a peaceful end to a standoff over North Korea's nuclear program.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter The Associated Press

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