The fate of South Korea’s strategic ambiguity to the US and China

By Sung Kyoo Ahn

South Korea has found itself in a difficult position after the US’ announcement of an ‘United States Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China.’ South Korea has cultivated deep economic interests tied to China, and obtained security guarantees through its alliance with the US. For the benefit of these interests, South Korea has kept a strategic ambiguity about China’s controversial issues, but the US’ announcement could push South Korea to change its strategic position which may risk its security and economic interests. In an environment of intensifying hegemonic rivalry, sandwiched between the US and China, it needs to think about a more clear stance. This includes expressing understanding towards US’ grievances with China’s economic activities and voicing issues related to security and values, like democracy and human rights.

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