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S. Korea's diplomacy between diamond and pearl necklace

Posted November. 07, 2017 08:01,   

Updated November. 07, 2017 09:08


At a bilateral meeting held Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would apply a maximum level of pressure on North Korea. Trump made it clear that the United States will stick to the "maximum pressure" policy against the North, saying "Some people said that my rhetoric is very strong, but look at what's happened with very weak rhetoric." The Japanese prime minister said the two leaders have agreed to strengthen cooperation for a "free and open Indo-Pacific strategy" and Trump showed his support using the term "India-Pacific" instead of "Asia-Pacific."

The "India-Pacific Strategy" championed by the two leaders seeks to establish an era of cooperation that encompasses the Indian Ocean region beyond the Asia-Pacific region. But the ulterior motive behind the strategy is to control China's growing influence in the region. The "free and open India-Pacific strategy," a vision presented by Abe, aims to control China's expansionism through the "security diamond" formed by the United States, Japan, Australia and India. The strategy may spark strong opposition from China with the US' buy-in of Abe's vision.

China has invested in major ports in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean that, if linked together, create the shape of a "pearl necklace." In response, the United States and Japan, jointly with India and Australia, have come up the "India-Pacific Strategy." Amid escalating territorial dispute in the South and East China Sea, the "pearl necklace" by China and "diamond" by the United States, Japan and the two other nations could lead to another conflict. South Korea is currently not included in the diamond vision, but it could be put in a difficult situation once cooperation among the United States, South Korea and Japan becomes ever more important due to North Korea's nuclear development issue.

During his visit to Japan this time, Trump has boasted his close friendship with Abe, but when it comes to trade issues, he did not hesitate to "bash Japan" by saying, "The United States has suffered massive trade deficits at the hands of Japan for many, many years." As for North Korean issue, Trump said, "I will sit with anybody," leaving room for dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. These examples show that Trump is a man who is very changeable, unpredictable, and prefers outcome over progress.

Trump will make his state visit to South Korea Tuesday. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said earlier in an interview that he is pursuing a balanced diplomacy with the United States and China. His "balanced diplomacy" will be put to test this time. Trump and Moon have different views on how to resolve North Korea’s nuclear development issue. Although Trump's visit to South Korea this time will be only for one night and two days, President Moon should take this as an opportunity to increase mutual understanding by persuading the U.S. president and, at the same time, keeping pace with him.