ae-Woo Joo, Professor at Kyunghee University, International Politics

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CCP) was closed on the 22nd, and General Secretary Xi Jinping’s dictatorship began. At the party congress, the CCP defined the next five years as a critical period for the overall construction of a modernized socialist state. It is the period of completion of the grading work to achieve a socialist modernized country in 2035.

Meanwhile, the Joe Biden administration published the National Security Strategy (NSS) Report on the 12th. It was declared the end of the post-Cold War era and the entrance to a new era of power politics. He predicted that the competition with China for a strategic advantage will continue for the next 10 years. The report named this period ‘a decisive decade’ for the United States.

In this way, the United States and China announced to each other a firm determination not to retreat from strategic competition at the same time. For this reason, the strategic competition between the US and China will continue. In particular, until the presidential election in January 2024, the ‘chicken game’ to gain a strategic advantage in the Taiwan Strait region will become more intense. Therefore, it seems that security insecurity and tension in the East Asian region are unavoidable. It is an urgent time to come up with measures to contain and respond to this.

First, a strategy for developing Korea-China relations based on the strong US-ROK alliance is prepared. It is an undeniable reality that South Korea-China relations are based on the ROK-US alliance. It has long been established as an orthodoxy in the foreign policy of successive governments. Therefore, it is our destiny and mission to cooperate with the US on the US side in the US-China strategic competition. In the current strategic competition between the United States and China, the United States is leading the market by pressing China with its core technology in the 4th industry. That’s why China has no choice but to be on the defensive. When the US continues its ‘push the envelop’ type of pressure strategy against China, it must actively participate in it and try to change the situation in favor of Korea.

Second, a strategy is prepared to jointly respond to China’s challenge to the ROK-US security alliance. The problem that China is most sensitive to in strategic competition with the United States is that the United States uses the competition as an excuse to increase its firepower targeting China to US bases in neighboring countries. THAAD is a prime example. The representative strategy that China mobilizes to shake and destroy the foundation of the ROK-U.S. alliance is the ‘ree-jei’ (conquer barbarians with barbarians). In other words, although they know that THAAD is clearly USFK, it is trying to shake the foundation of our society by inducing antipathy and dissatisfaction with the alliance by shifting responsibility for its deployment to South Korea. Therefore, the ROK-US security alliance must jointly come up with a defense that does not suffer from external factors, such as urging the US Congress to enact the pending ‘economic coercion countermeasures bill’.

Finally, it is a strategy to approach China’s political and economic difficulties in a pragmatic manner. China’s position was also unclear and contradictory in several places in the report of the Party Congress due to the growing uncertainty in the world. For example, the importance of international cooperation is emphasized along with the ‘twin cycle’ strategy that aims to reduce dependence on foreign countries through self-reliance. Amid this unrest in China, it seems that there is no room for retaliatory measures such as THAAD. Using this as an opportunity, a more daring public strategy should be implemented.

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