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  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), with the generous support of the Korea Foundation, organized six “Vision Group” roundtable conversations with leading American scholars and commentators to discuss the United States’ relationship with the Republic of Korea. The first was held in December 2019, the last in November 2020. The intent was to consider the future of relations during a time of change. The Vision Group comprised a wide range of expertise and opinion. This record conveys some of the insights and recommendations that arose during the conversations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Maximilian Ernst
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: This paper examines South Korea’s foreign policy towards China before, during, and after the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense dispute to investigate the limits of South Korea’s public diplomacy and soft power. South Korea’s official public diplomacy has the objective to “gain global support for Korea’s policies,” following Joseph Nye’s narrow definition of soft power. South Korea furthermore ranks high in the most relevant soft power indices. Based on the case of Chinese economic retaliation against South Korea in response to THAAD deployment, this paper argues that public diplomacy and soft power only work in the absence of traditional security contentions, but fail in the presence of such security contentions. The THAAD case also demonstrates the utility of traditional diplomacy, based on high-level summits and negotiations, to solve the very disputes that South Korea’s latent public diplomacy and soft power were unable to alleviate.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Weapons
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Choong Yong Ahn
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: India and South Korea, Asia’s third- and fourth-largest economies, respectively, established a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2010 and upgraded their relationship to a special strategic partnership in 2015. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s “New Southern” policy and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” policy share important objectives and values through which Korea and India can maximize their potential to pursue high tech-oriented, win-win growth. Both countries face the great challenge of diversifying their economic partners in their respective geo-economic domains amid newly emerging international geo-economic dynamics as well as rapidly changing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Given the two countries’ excessive dependence on the Chinese market and potential risks and uncertainties involved in the U.S.-China trade war and related security conflicts, South Korea and India need to deepen bilateral linkages in trade, investment, and cultural contacts. South Korea-India cooperation is crucial in promoting plurilateralism, prosperity, and harmony in East Asia. This paper suggests a specific action agenda to fulfill mutual commitments as entailed in the “Special Strategic Partnership” between these two like-minded countries of South Korea and India.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Industry
  • Political Geography: United States, China, South Asia, India, Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Jagannath P. Panda
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Both India’s and South Korea’s strategic choices are deeply influenced by the rapidly evolving Indo-Pacific construct, particularly amid a mounting U.S.-China rivalry. With India’s “Look/Act East” policy and South Korea’s “New Southern Policy” offering a perfect stage for deepened mutual cooperation, both nations need to further their relations to build Asia’s future while advancing their respective national interests. With both countries following stringent foreign policies as a result of the actions of their immediate neighbors, they present a geopolitically strategic complementarity for their relationship to prosper and emerge as one of the most important relationships in the region. Seoul’s hesitation to overtly embrace the “Indo-Pacific” concept is not really a barrier; rather a geo-political overture to discard the balance of power politics and pursue an autonomous foreign policy. India’s preference for the “Indo-Pacific” is equally based on strategic autonomy, imbibing universal values and an inclusive regional order. Both countries emphasize a free and rules-based Indo-Pacific and have immense potential to establish security and connectivity partnerships as the keystone of their bilateral ties. With India and South Korea understanding the economic importance versus security ramifications of China, and with Japan’s reemergence as a key regional, if not global actor, both countries need to bring serious strategic intent to their relationship. Making use of the ASEAN platform and bilateral dialogues, South Korea and India have the potential to become one of the strongest Indo-Pacific partners of the 21st century
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia, South Korea, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Gilbert Rozman, Mark Tokola, Gilbert Rozman, Dmitri V. Trenin, Yuki Tatsumi, Kathryn Botto, Rush Doshi, Scott W. Harold, See-Won Byun, Cheol Hee Park, Brad Glosserman, Charles W. Boustany Jr., Matthew Goodman, Wonho Yeon, Kitti Prasirtsuk
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The experts in this volume have thoughtfully addressed themes that are pervasive throughout Asia and are timely for the U.S.-Korea alliance. With the future of Northeast Asia in flux, political leaders are hoping to transform their respective visions into the path forward for the region. Authors in the first section analyze the frameworks of U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discern the currents underlying geopolitical developments in the region. The second section examines the role of national identity in key bilateral Indo-Pacific relationships where geopolitical fault lines have become clearer. Chapters in this section cover the India-China, U.S.-China, South Korea-China, and South Korea-Japan dyads. The final section provides insights into how several of China’s neighbors and the United States are responding to its economic rise, which, of course, are also guided by strategic concerns. Considering how COVID-19 has exacerbated the rivalry between Washington and Beijing as well as the influence this relationship carries in shaping the future of the region, the contributions here are particularly relevant and timely.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Economics, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga, Scott W. Harold
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: North Korea’s ballistic missile program has long been a concern for the United States, South Korea, and Japan. Foreign researchers have increasingly leveraged advanced open source intelligence technology and cooperated across countries to track the North’s developments over the last 25 years. But one country has been left out – China. Are there open source Chinese analyses of DPRK ballistic missiles, do they align with U.S. assessments, and is there anything for other researchers to gain from reading these analyses? This report examines Chinese assessments of North Korean ballistic missile capabilities between 1998 and 2017. We find that Chinese analysts have paid growing attention to the North’s missile capabilities but are still not as attentive as Western observers, from whom they draw most of their information and analytic insights. Chinese analyses broadly mirror Western experts’ conclusions about the state of North Korea’s missile capabilities, most notably that North Korea has a functional, if not fully perfected, intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach the United States with a nuclear weapon. However, there is little original Chinese analysis that would enhance foreign experts’ preexisting understanding of DPRK missiles.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Weapons , Research
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: James D. J. Brown
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Russia is widely accused of employing a range of instruments—both overt and covert—to undermine Western unity. However, to what extent is Russia engaged in comparable activities to weaken the South Korean and Japanese alliances with the United States? This paper answers this question by assessing Moscow’s actions in the domains of diplomacy, information, the military, and the economy. It finds that Russia is indeed aiming to encourage Seoul and Tokyo to distance themselves from Washington and from each other. In particular, Moscow is committed to deterring U.S. allies from facilitating the deployment of additional units of U.S. missile defense systems within the region. Across the four domains, it is only in the economic field that Russia is found to lack leverage. Overall, Moscow has achieved several tactical victories, but has yet to seriously damage U.S.-led alliance structures within the region. All the same, Seoul and Tokyo must remain watchful of Moscow’s activities, especially since there are signs of increased cooperation between Russia and China in exploiting wedge issues between the United States and its allies, thereby potentially combining China’s economic weight with Russia’s skills in influence operations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Economy, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, United States of America
  • Author: Kitti Prasirtsuk
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The rise of China generally presents both opportunities and challenges, particularly in economic terms. In the past several years, new kinds of challenges have been emerging and are looming larger in ASEAN countries. While ties with Beijing are, by and large, cordial, there are several signs that relations below the state level are increasingly worrisome. First, Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) is largely not oriented towards manufacturing. A considerable amount tends to be in non-real sectors, such as real estate and casinos, which may not generate much employment and can be unhealthy to local economies. Second, the way Chinese businesses expand tends to be predatory, as demonstrated in tourism-related businesses and the acquisitions of fruit businesses in Thailand. As a consequence, new Chinatowns are emerging as more Chinese are moving into the region. Third, even business expansion through the Chinese government, e.g., the train projects, is far from smooth. ASEAN countries find themselves in uneasy deals – including onerous loan terms, undue requests for land usage along the train lines, stringent technology transfers, and imported Chinese labor. Moreover, the recent COVID-19 outbreak reveals not only the fragility of economic overdependence on China, but also public resentment towards the Chinese. Overall, the relations at the level of business and the people are far from promising, which can become a risk factor in state-to-state relations. The situation apparently demands good management from both Beijing and the counterpart governments.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics, ASEAN, COVID-19, Real Estate
  • Political Geography: China, Malaysia, Asia, Vietnam, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Wonho Yeon
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: This paper reviews China’s technological rise and assesses whether it poses a threat to the South Korean economy. In terms of comparative advantage between the two countries, many experts have long believed that China’s strength is low-cost labor and Korea’s is technology and capital. However, this has changed as China’s economy grows. Now China has enough capital to invest in its economy. Some scholars even argue that China has the potential to meet its “innovation imperative” and emerge as a driving force in innovation on a global level.1 This paper examines the Korea-China economic relationship from the innovation productivity perspective, organized into sections: briefly introducing the Korea- China economic relationship; describing the technological rise of China, based on recent data; developing the model to analyze the innovation productivity of China and report the estimation results; evaluating the concern of the South Korean semiconductor industry; and presenting conclusions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Charles W. Boustany Jr.
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: American ideals coupled with the commercial self-interest of American business and industry drove the policy of engagement, and even after the 1989 massacre of student protesters at Tiananmen Square, sustained momentum for China’s accession into the WTO. Despite China’s known unfair trade practices, it was thought that problems would eventually disappear as China adopted rules and norms as conditions of its accession to the WTO while deepening its integration into the global trading system. Yet, despite this strategy of engagement, China has not implemented expected substantive structural reforms consistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of its WTO obligations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have experienced periods of conflict and cooperation since officially forging “partnership” relations in 1998. From a historical perspective, Korea was among the most willing participants of the Sinocentric tribute system and its underlying cultural hierarchy. Yet the 2003-2004 dispute over the ancient Koguryo kingdom’s identity marked the first major downturn in the China-ROK relationship since normalization. The rapid expansion of trade, at an average annual rate of 18 percent since 1992, has not prevented the two sides from fighting over political grievances. Most notably under the current Xi Jinping leadership, Beijing’s assertions of unprecedented friendship quickly turned into accusations of betrayal requiring economic punishment. Why and how did China’s policy toward South Korea shift so drastically after two decades of diplomatic normalization? To answer, we must focus on the expectations raised by China’s national identity for ties with South Korea. This study examines the evolution of Chinese views of South Korea with a focus on elite and popular narratives since 2013. Despite increased interdependence, these narratives point to China’s increasingly fragile political ties with Asian partners. Most importantly, China’s growing weight facilitates its strategic combination of economic and discursive tools of diplomacy framed by national identity. Recent tensions over the U.S.-ROK military alliance displayed Beijing’s denial of direct economic retaliation under the cover of public hostility, conveniently blurring the lines between state-led and voluntary actions. By hardening the identity dimensions of conflict, such strategies may only have long-term counterproductive effects of constraining Beijing’s political influence at home and abroad. The four sections below proceed as follows. First, I review two decades of China-ROK relations since the establishment of partnership ties in 1998. I identify two related trends: the intensification of political disputes despite trade, and China’s growing economic leverage in managing those disputes, keeping an eye on the role of national identity. Second, I assess the pessimistic turn in China’s domestic discourse on South Korea in the Xi Jinping period, using official, academic, and media sources. Third, I trace the interaction of elite and popular narratives, focusing on the 2016-2017 dispute over a U.S. missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). I briefly extend the discussion to public clashes over Hong Kong in 2019 to underscore the enduring impact of China’s major power and domestic political identities on China-ROK relations. To conclude, I consider the trajectory of bilateral relations under the leadership of Xi Jinping and Moon Jae-in, including the domestic and foreign policy implications of nationalist discourse.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Public Opinion, Elites
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Scott W. Harold
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: U.S. views of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have been hardening for at least two decades, from George W. Bush characterizing China in the 2000 presidential campaign and the first months of his presidency as a “strategic competitor,” to the Obama administration’s pursuit of a “pivot” to the Asia–Pacific in response to China’s growing assertiveness, to the Trump administration describing China’s rise as signaling the “return of an era of great power competition.” Does this trend reflect changes in U.S. self-conception and national identity? Evolving assessments of threat in light of Chinese behavior and what these imply about the regime’s intentions? A reaction to shifts in the overall balance of power between the two countries, perhaps a reflection of a declining superpower facing a rising challenge, “tragically” destined to participate in a “contest for supremacy in Asia” that will ineluctably result in a “Thucydides trap” or war of hegemonic transition? Or is it instead an inevitable clash between a liberal, democratic, rule of law capitalist hegemon and a resilient authoritarian challenger that is a communist dictatorship increasingly reliant on aggressive nationalism since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and evolving rapidly towards national socialism or fascism? While each of these perspectives provides some purchase on the recent developments in U.S. – China relations as seen from Washington, this chapter focuses on the role of national identity, arguing that identity is by no means the sole or best explanation, but that it is an important factor that should not be overlooked or underestimated.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Rush Doshi
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: "Hindu nationalism risks pushing India into war with China,” blared the headline from China’s nationalist tabloid, Global Times. Meanwhile, in Washington, a wide-ranging network of analysts optimistic on U.S.-India ties similarly argue that India’s nationalist political forces will push the country further away from Beijing and likely closer to Washington. These are bold claims about the ways in which national identity will intersect with great power politics. But are they correct? That question is now more urgent than ever. The Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) sweeping victory in the May 2019 elections shows that Hindu nationalism is the potent political force reshaping the country. But what role does China play in Hindu nationalist narratives, and how might those narratives affect China policy? This paper explores the various threads of Hindu nationalism and chronicles the relatively limited role that China plays within them. First, it explores the history of Hindu nationalism as a political force in India, demonstrating its tendency to view Islam – rather than the West or China – as the salient other. The key nationalist policy priorities for Hindu nationalists–including the introduction of a Uniform Civil Code that reduces sharia’s role in civil law, the repeal of Article 370 of India’s Constitution that protects Kashmir’s special status, and the construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya on the grounds of what was once a mosque – are all issues that implicate Hindu relations with Islam. Second, after making the argument that Hindu nationalism is primarily focused on Islam, the paper then turns to analyzing China’s role in nationalist ideology. It argues that China plays a relatively limited and often contradictory role in nationalist discourse despite the increasingly contentious Sino-Indian relationship. Hindu nationalists view China through a variety of lenses – sovereignty, trade, and values – each of which produces a different perspective and precludes a singular, unified Hindu nationalist view of China. And in some areas, Hindu nationalists even admire Chinese approaches.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Nationalism, Religion, Political Parties, Domestic Policy, Hinduism
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Dmitri V. Trenin
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: This paper discusses the strategic framework for Russia’s policies toward Northeast Asia, placing it in the context of Moscow’s geopolitical repositioning after the Ukraine crisis and the ensuing confrontation with the United States, and the alienation from Europe. After 2014, the Ukraine crisis put an end to Russia’s quarter-century-long attempt to integrate with the West and become part of a Greater Europe and the Euro-Atlantic community. At the same time and in the same place (Ukraine), Russia’s attempt to build a power center in the former Soviet space came to an end. Ukraine was not the cause of either failure, but it was the trigger of both. The conclusion was clear. Russia was not fit for integration into something that was bigger than Russia, and Russia was no longer capable of integrating former borderlands. Two-plus decades after the break-up of the former Soviet Union, Russia stood alone—but also free. Such was the end of a grand illusion linked to the West, and also the end of three centuries of empire-building.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Gilbert Rozman
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: When Xi Jinping’s strategizing in East Asia is discussed, attention centers on the southern tier, stressing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Policies toward Northeast Asia have been treated mostly as ad hoc responses to specific countries in shifting circumstances. The prospect that Xi has in recent years adjusted his overall approach toward this region has scarcely been explored. Unlike Southeast Asia, however, Northeast Asia is a geopolitical hotbed, with Russia and North Korea as military threats to the international community beyond any threats present to the south. At the same time, Japan and South Korea are U.S. military allies incomparably more significant than U.S. partners in Asia’s south. Given the legacy of the Six-Party Talks, focus on the strategic battleground here would seem desirable in its own right and as a key indicator of Xi’s evolving strategic thinking.
  • Topic: International Relations, Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Xi Jinping
  • Political Geography: China, Asia