Changing Security Dynamics in East Asia and Its Impacts on South Korea’s Middle Power Diplomacy


China’s economic and military rise in recent decades has begun to change East Asian regional security order, dominated by the US since the end of World War II based on hub-and-spoke alliance system. Not only is China increasingly aggressive over its maritime territorial disputes in East China and South China seas, but also aspires a ‘new type of great power relationship’ with the US which ultimate objective is to create China-centered Asia, devoid of US influence and accepted by the US. Following the launch of ‘Pivot to Asia’ (rebalancing to Asia) by Obama administration to protect US’ interest and to strengthen its commitments to its allies against rising China, the region has experienced the ‘returned of geopolitics’. Russia’s showing of new interest to the region in the post-Ukraine crisis, and Japan’s ambition for stronger military power escalated tensions. The fate of South Korea is steadily falling again into the realms of great powers politics. The contrasting approaches on the part of Beijing and Washington to AIIB - initiated by China, TPP - proposed by US, and THAAD - planned by US to install in South Korea are cases in point. The burgeoning great power rivalries at the regional level in recent years started to impair South Korea’s middle power diplomacy, which had been successfully carried out globally since the beginning of Lee Myung-bak administration (2008-2013). Park Geun-hye’s Trustpolitik, NAPCI and Eurasian Initiatives suffered drawbacks due to lack of support from the four great powers and reciprocity from North Korea.

Author Information
Mangzamuan Thangkhal, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

Paper Information
Conference: APSec2015
Stream: Foreign Policy and Diplomacy

This paper is part of the APSec2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon