[COLUMN] S. Korea needs multi-faceted approach to deal with two superpowers

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-03-13 10:15 Updated : 2018-03-13 10:15
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Reuters / Yonhap]

SEOUL -- U.S. President Donald Trump's tariff bombshell is interpreted as the start of his re-election plan. The summit between Trump and Kim Jong-un will be a good source of re-election as it can be a breakthrough in the North Korean nuclear issue.

Whether Trump is re-elected or Chinese President Xi Jinping secures his long-term ruling, we have no reason to intervene. However, the continuing confrontation between the leaders of the two superpowers which claim to be 'strongmen' is inevitably affecting our national interests and security. That requires our meticulous strategy.

Because the relationship with the United States is based on the alliance, we have no alternative but to bolster it. The diplomatic rhetoric of our ambiguous strategic partnership with China may not work anymore. In finding the best way to protect our national interests, it is very important to establish a multi-faceted approach to how to respond to possible conflicts and competition between the two superpowers.

The bigger problem can come from China. Xi's strengthened leadership is not bad for the short term because it can guarantee China's political stability. However, if we look back at the historical fact that 'absolute power is absolutely corrupt,' Xi's prolonged leadership can lead to instability.

The one-man leadership system is likely to result in the abuse of power by 'a hegemonic state' that risks tensions and conflicts with neighboring countries while heightening political tension. We are afraid of such a situation.

Of course, China is expected not to take a head-to-head confrontation with the United States right now but to play hit-and-run guerrilla tactics in various fields. In this process, there are concerns that we could be an innocent target from both sides.

When the confrontation becomes full-scale, "balanced diplomacy" can be regarded as sitting on the fence. Just as relations with the United States are not equal, our relations with China have been so historically. We did not fall into a tributary, but every time the Chinese dynasty changed, we devoted our tribute and were invaded from time to time.

China is our largest market, but it is not on our side in international relations. If we can prepare for the Sino-U.S. war for the coming decade, we may not become an innocent bystander hurting in their fight.

(This article was contributed by Seo Myung-soo, CEO of the Super China Research Center.)