Forged in the horrific destruction of the Korean War that began 65 years ago, the U.S.-Korea alliance has emerged strong, resolute, comprehensive and enduring. It has become a “Blood Alliance.” More than 1.7 million Korean American constituents represent yet another bond between our countries, with Southern California having the largest Korean population outside the Korean Peninsula.
In recent years, the two nations have taken strong steps to broaden this partnership, from regional stability and security to trade and investment. This week, Ms. Park’s visit will provide yet another forum for further expanding our mutual cooperation on energy, space, health, education and cybersecurity, among other issues.
As the visit underscores, this alliance has been a bulwark of international security since the 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty, under which American and Korean troops have stood shoulder-to-shoulder against North Korean aggression and provocation.
Over six decades, the security relationship has become a more comprehensive partnership. Confronting the common threat posed by North Korea, we are also working together to counter North Korea’s nuclear blackmail of its neighbors, while calling attention to blatant human rights violations in one of the most brutal dictatorships on earth.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s economic prowess and geopolitical influence continues to grow, while Seoul remains grounded in our shared values and commitment to democracy, free market economy and respect for human rights. These principles are none more evident than in Ms. Park’s historic election as the first female president in Northeast Asia. Her speech to Congress in 2013 marked an important historical point in our alliance.
Bolstered by the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, which I championed in the Congress in 2011, trade between our two economies reached $116 billion in 2014, and South Korea now ranks sixth among U.S. trading partners. Supporting businesses and jobs throughout the country, American exports to Korea reached a record level of $44.5 billion last year — an increase of 7 percent over 2013. Major U.S. exports to Korea included aircraft, semiconductors, machinery and agricultural products. In fact, my home state of California exported $8.6 billion worth of goods and services annually to Korea. To further strengthen our trade ties, I look forward to South Korea’s participation in the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership in the near future.
Addressing 21st-century challenges, we achieved an important agreement this year supporting civil nuclear cooperation between our countries. Signed on June 15, this agreement will allow the U.S. and Korea to continue their trade in civilian nuclear energy. The deal promises to inject billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, supporting thousands of high-wage American jobs.
It also strengthens international nuclear nonproliferation standards — a critical concern whose urgency is heightened by North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship.
Another issue of increasing importance, Korea’s role as a technological trailblazer makes it an indispensable partner for the U.S. In recognition of Ms. Park’s commitment to the “creative economy,” the U.S. will partner to support Korea’s efforts to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. In health care, we are promoting innovation, investment and growth in pharmaceuticals, biologics and medical devices.
Using their experience and expertise, Korean health care professionals are working with their American colleagues to respond to health care crises around the world, including the epidemic of Ebola in West Africa. South Korea hosted the Global Health Security Agenda Ministerial meeting in Seoul last September, which seeks to make progress toward achieving a world safe and secure from biological threats.
Similarly, in cybersecurity, our two countries are working to counter transnational hackers, such as the North Koreans who hacked into South Korea’s financial sector and stole confidential data from Sony Studios in Southern California.
This relationship knows no bounds. NASA and the Korean Aerospace Research Institute are discussing collaboration in space exploration and aeronautics research. The U.S. and Korea will work together in the International Space Exploration Coordination Group.
From preventing aggression on the Korean Peninsula to protecting the world community against thermonuclear threats and promoting technological progress from cyberspace to outer space, Korea remains a linchpin of America’s foreign policy in Northeast Asia. The U.S.-Korea alliance has never been stronger, our ties have never been deeper, and our global partnership more comprehensive. As president of the Republic of Korea, Park Geun-hye deserves America’s warmest welcome.
• Mr. Royce, R-Calif., is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and former Chairman of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Interparliamentary Exchange.
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