Tacit Acceptance and Watchful Eyes: Beijing's Views about the U.S.-ROK Alliance

  • January 01, 1997
  • Dr Fei-Ling Wang

In October 1995, the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute and the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of Kyungnam University, in partnership with the Defense Nuclear Agency and The Korea Society, hosted in Seoul, Korea, an international workshop on the U.S.-ROK Alliance. For nearly a half century, the security alliance between the ROK and the United States has deterred aggression, helped assure stability in Northeast Asia, and supported the ROK's political and economic emergence as one of the advanced democratic industrial countries of the world. In this monograph, Professor Wang Fei-ling examines the future of the alliance from China's perspective. He suggests that China's current preoccupation with its domestic agenda and relatively conservative foreign policy seek to maintain the status quo in Northeast Asia. And that status quo makes even continued U.S. military presence desirable in the context of a divided Korea because it buttresses stability and inhibits militarism in Japan. But an American presence that grows, takes on the flavor of containment, or emphasizes human rights and the enlargement of democracy threatens Chinese security interests. Overall, concern that Northeast Asia is on the verge of significant transformation in economics, governments, and balance of power relationships lends an inevitable duality to Chinese attitudes toward the Washington-Seoul relationship. Dr. Wang's comments provide insight into China's probable reaction to various scenarios of change possible in the next decade. The Sino-American relationship will become increasingly important, and Dr. Wang's warning that a sharp shift in China's Korea policy is possible has significant implications for U.S. interests.