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The Quad: South Korea Caught between China & the US!!

To the chagrin of Washington, South Korea is balking United States’ request to join the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) — comprising the U.S., Australia, Japan, and India — to contain China.

Given the uncertainty and ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and China, the former is hoping to expand the Quad by inviting South Korea, New Zealand, and Vietnam. Thus far, many U.S. allies in the region are reluctant to join this effort. The reason is the economic concerns these countries have over how China may react or do. Australia is a case in point.

In the case of South Korea, Seoul does not want to damage its relations with Beijing and thus far has shown a rather ambiguous stance. China is right on South Korea’s doorstep. Similarly, South Korea knows China is on the rise and within this decade it could (some argue it will) become a global economic powerhouse. Be that as it may, it is in South Korea’s national and economic interest to maintain a good relationship with China.

Of Note: South Korea ranks among the top ten the largest trading partners of China with an estimated US$132.6 billion, as of 2020.

The bottom line: Now, the QUAD is more of a regional forum that has not yet acquired the features of a political or military bloc. This allows Seoul to maintain a certain distance and hold its ambiguous stance. Where from here, is anyone’s guess!!!

David Oualaalou is a Geopolitical Consultant, Award Winning Educator, Veteran, Author, and former International Security analyst in Washington, D.C.

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