Eva O’Dea is a Research Associate in the Lowy Institute’s East Asia Program.
US allies in East Asia are concerned about inconsistency in Washington's commitment to the region, according to Dr Choi Kang, Senior Research Fellow and Vice President of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. Dr Choi discussed the US 'rebalance' to East Asia and the state of South Korea-China relations with the Lowy Institute's Linda Jakobson following an international workshop on Northeast Asian political and security dynamics in Seoul on 24 September.
While there have been positive statements made by the US administration at the strategic level, these are yet to be followed up by concrete actions, said Dr Choi. Secretary of State John Kerry has not shown the same level of 'enthusiasm' for the rebalance to Asia as his predecessor, Hillary Clinton, and is distracted by events in Syria. Dr Choi called on the US to focus more on how its actions in Syria may impact on its security commitments to its allies in East Asia.
Denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula is the biggest challenge facing China-South Korea relations, according to Dr Choi. The extent to which China and South Korea can cooperate on policy towards North Korea remains a critical issue in bilateral relations.