On November 19, President Donald J Trump seemingly got out of bed to suddenly announce that the cost of maintaining 28,500 troops on South Korean soil would quintuple from US$923 million to about US$5 billion per year. In distressing exchange, South Korea said it would establish additional military hotlines with Beijing and agreed Seoul would “foster bilateral exchanges and cooperation in defense” with China, starting with a visit by South Korea’s defense minister to Beijing next year. That is an indication of how much trouble the alliance is in between the US and South Korea, an alliance that came into being in 1953 after the US lost nearly 40,000 dead (and South Korea lost 5 million), and that has served as one of the linchpins of the US presence in Asia for the past 66 years. The collapse of that agreement, and with similar troubles with the agreement in Japan, basically holds the danger of writing the end of the effective US presence in Asia.
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