INCREASED CHINESE ECONOMIC INFLUENCE AND ITS IMPACT ON THE CHANGING SECURITY ENVIRONMENT ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA
Huntley, Wade L.
Barma, Naazneen H.
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This thesis examines the economic ties between South Korea and China and considers whether those ties affect the cohesion of the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance. South Korea and China have become important trade partners. This partnership, however, has led to South Korea’s asymmetrical dependence on China, a relationship determined by three factors: total trade volume, foreign direct investment, and critical exports and imports. This thesis found that as South Korea’s bilateral trade structure has become more vulnerable, China has become better positioned to influence the ROK. Similarly, the thesis analyzed the cohesiveness of the ROK-U.S. security alliance through three elements: what kind of institutions and policies were established, how many U.S. troops and how much equipment were deployed to South Korea, and what exercises and trainings were initiated or abolished during the period studied. Although this thesis does not find a correlation between South Korea’s and China’s increasing economic ties and the cohesiveness of the ROK-U.S. alliance from 1992 to 2016, it makes some valuable contributions. First, it refines prior efforts to measure the cohesiveness of the ROK-U.S. alliance using quantitative methods. Second, it examines the implications for the ROK of growing tensions between the United States and China, and considers how the ROK can protect its domestic economy and policies and avoid damaging its partnerships with these powerful states.
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