The recent ROK-China relations is commented as one akin to ‘roller coaster.’ Once expressed as the ‘best of all times,’ the bilateral relations have been viewed as the worst since the establishment of diplomatic relations and China, which has imposed sanctions on North Korea over the nuclear issue, has begun to sanction South Korea, as the latter decided to deploy THAAD on its soil. For the last 25 years, the ties between Seoul and Beijing has developed significantly in a miracle-like fashion. Even disregarding the economy, the bilateral exchanges in all areas, including politics, culture, and society have advanced noticeably, and the relations progressed from friendly good neighbor relations to a collaborative partnership, to a comprehensive partnership, and established ‘strategic partnership.’
However, despite these flowery phrases, the current ROK-China relations also face the danger of colliding strategic security interests between the two countries due to the concern of the North Korean nuclear issue. Particularly, the security dilemma between the two countries seems to widen regarding the perception gap and the solution to the North Korean nuclear issue. In fact, while the stability on the Korean Peninsula is an utmost priority for China since it had been entangled in wars when the peninsula was in turmoil, the mutual distrust between the two countries have been increasing over the measures to solve the North Korean nuclear issue including the THAAD deployment and the implementation of sanctions on North Korea. Hence, the bilateral relations may once again transition toward a confrontational one, if Seoul and Beijing fail to manage bilateral ties prudently. Moreover, due to China’s rapid surge, the Korean Peninsula has once again started to witness an atmosphere of Cold War, as the U.S-China competition for regional hegemony intensifies.
In this respect, the South Korean and Chinese scholars jointly wrote on the recent major contentious issues in the Korean Peninsula. In the first chapter, the author touches on the situation where the two countries’ security interests gradually clash, because of the North Korean nuclear issue under the regional security environment followed by the recent U.S.-China hegemonic competition. The author, then, delves into the possibility of cooperation and security dilemma according to the changes in bilateral relations after the establishment of diplomatic relations so as to review the possibility of cooperation and security dilemma between the two countries which has entered into transition. The second chapter addresses the measures for security cooperation between the two countries from the point of a Chinese scholar. Especially, to resolve the security dilemma between the two countries and to strengthen bilateral cooperation, the author suggests the two countries clarify the mutual strategic goal and pursue gradual cooperation from non-traditional security area, where the cooperation is comparatively simple. The third chapter diagnoses South Korea’s ‘wishful thinking’ on DPRK-China relations. The remarkably deepening ROK-China relations, dubbed as ‘honeymoon,’ has engendered the prospects that the DPRK-China relations, strained by North Korea’s various provocations, will further aggravate. However, these expectations have vanished after the ROK-China confrontation sparked surrounding the deployment of THAAD. Furthermore, China, which should impose sanctions on North Korea, has initiated sanctions on South Korea. Beginning with the research question that “why did South Korea misjudge China?’ the author navigates specific events to view whether the fundamental shift in China’s North Korea policy actually exists – that South Korean scholars believed in. Finally, chapter 4 examines through what ‘prism’ China has viewed South Korea from a Chinese scholar’s perspective. In detail, the author focused on how the Chinese press has reported on South Korea since the normalization of diplomatic relations and also investigated on the changes that the Chinese press reported on ‘North Korea,’ a very sensitive subject for China, and from what point of view has it took.
Volume No.: 2017-3
Publisher: The Sejong Institute
Publication Date: February 25, 2017
Paperback: 155 Pages