A final point that discussions with Japanese experts brought out came from...
2020-12-07 2 ENGLISH REPORTS
Pillar Two: Reinvigorate the trade relationship Washington’s renewed focus on strategic competition with China has landed South Korea in a familiar bind, wedged between China, its largest trading partner by an almost 100 percent margin, and the United States, the guarantor of South Korean security and a long-standing ally.9 Broadening the base of the U.S.-ROK economic relationship would help mitigate the risks of South Korea’s economic dependence on China and enhance coordination in multilateral trade and economic organizations. The implementation of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) was just one important step toward expanding the trade relationship; in the seven years following initial implementation in 2011, bilateral trade grew by 30 percent.States has long served as the top international destination for Korean students, though, due to high costs and fckle visa policies in the United States, there is roughly the same number of Korean students in China today as in the United States.13 The movement of South Korean people to the United States not only helps fund the American higher education system, but also powers next-generation industries with a steady stream of highly qualifed applicants. Ensuring that these cross-border fows continue to grow is in both the economic and diplomatic interests of the United States. Pillar Three: Coordinate on values-based diplomacy For decades, South Korea has been instrumental in the sustainment of the U.S.-led security architecture in the Indo-Pacifc.
Ultimately, mutual commitment to uphold the rule of law, human rights, fair trade practices, and democracy undergirds the logic of the alliance. Forty years after the Gwangju Uprising precipitated South Korea’s transition from military dictatorship to fourishing democracy and economic powerhouse, the country has the capacity and cache to play a critical role as not only a linchpin of a U.S.-led security order in the Indo-Pacifc, but also as a champion of democratic values.14 As the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled economies across the globe and the twin challenges of resurgent authoritarianism and democratic backsliding threaten the United States’ vision of a free and open Indo-Pacifc, the values-based afnity between the United States, South Korea, and other Asian allies is more important than ever.15 The proliferation of multilateral engagement mechanisms among likeminded countries in the Indo-Pacifc— including the Quad Plus—is promising.16 By working together with other like-minded nations, the United States and South Korea can provide telecommunications and vital infrastructure to enable countries with nascent digital ecosystems to chart a more liberal and open future on their own terms.
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