South Korea's foreign policy strategy amid the hegemonic competition
between the U.S. and China
[Sejong Policy Series] No. 2020-02
Dr. LEE Sang Hyun
Senior Research Fellow,
The Sejong Institute
The current diplomatic and security environments of the Korean Peninsula foreshadow drastic changes. Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, which was held during the seemingly-everlasting COVID-19 pandemic, indicates that new diplomatic and security conditions await the globe and the Korean Peninsula.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of unprecedented changes in the realm of international politics. There are various changes in the international order due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Among them, the intensifying, hegemonic competition between the U.S. and China most heavily influences the diplomatic and security environment of South Korea. COVID-19 is expected to worsen the ongoing hegemonic competition between the U.S. and China. The intensifying conflict between the U.S. and China may further weaken global leadership, G2, and international systems and governance. Conflicts between the U.S. and China over the cause of the COVID-19 outbreak have escalated the trade war to currency war and bond war and turned the hegemonic competition of technology into a full-scale competition of system and ideology. Will the U.S. and China clash over hegemony? If so, what diplomatic and security strategies should South Korea respond with? This book is the result of a joint study designed to answer these questions.
There are 5 chapters in this book. In Chapter 1, Dr. Lee Sang Hyun analyzes the theoretical framework of analyzing the hegemonic competition between the U.S. and China from various perspectives. Chapter 1 discusses classical power transition theory, recent changes in dynamics between the U.S. and China, and the mutual strategic perception. South Korea's strategic response is shown based on these discussions. In Chapter 2, Dr. Lee Dae Woo analyzes the U.S. global strategy toward China. Chapter 2 reviews past U.S. national security strategies and discusses important issues such as the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, China's Belt and Road Initiative, and the prospects of marine security between the U.S. and China. Chapter 3 analyzes China's global strategy toward the U.S. In Chapter 3, Dr. Chung Jae Hung discusses major issues to comprehend China's strategy, such as the Chinese Dream, the core of Xi Jinping's foreign strategy, the 'Two Centenaries' strategy, used to complete the Chinese Dream, and other means like Made in China 2025, the Belt and Road Initiative, and China's Military Dream, which are used to win the hegemonic competition between the U.S. and China. Chapter 4 analyzes the military aspects of the hegemonic competition between the U.S. and China. Dr. Woo Jung Yeop reviewed key military strategies and attitudes that arose in the hegemonic competition between the U.S. and China. The basis of China's military strategy is A2/AD (Anti-Access/Area Denial) that focuses on preventing the U.S. access to the Western Pacific region. Meanwhile, the U.S. is responding with 'Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons: JAM-GC' and the third offset strategy to overcome China's numerical superiority. As the U.S. emphasizes the concept of ultra-regional and multi-regional military strategy, which value alliances and solidarity, the role of the South Korea-U.S. alliance is expected to change. Lastly, chapter 5 analyzes economic and technical aspects of the hegemonic competition between the U.S. and China. Dr. Bae Young Ja analyzes the world politics of high-tech competition between the U.S. and China, including the cases of semiconductors, 5G, AI, and big data, based on the prospects of the U.S.-China trade war and changes in the global economic order. And there are suggestions for South Korea's trade and technological innovation policies.
With Joe Biden's 2020 U.S. presidential victory, the overall style will become more sophisticated-unlike Trump's stark 'China Bashing.' However, even with the new Democratic government, 'America First' and the hegemonic competition between the U.S. and China will continue. In addition, the Biden administration, which values a multilateral approach to China through networking alliance and ally cooperation, may open a new window of challenges and opportunities for South Korea. This book was written to contribute to envisioning a strategic response to the opening of such window.
Volume No: 2020-2
Issue Date: 2020.12.1.
Page: 274 pages
▶ For a full paper in Korean, please follow the link: http://www.sejong.org/boad/1/egoread.php?bd=14&itm=&txt=&pg=1&seq=5707
※ This article is written based on the author’s personal opinions and does not reflect the views of the Sejong Institute.
※ Translator’s note: This is a summarized unofficial translation of the original paper which was written in Korean. All references should be made to the original paper.