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Cheong Wa Dae says still early to respond to Trump's new geoeconomic strategy

Diplomacy 10:45 May 22, 2020

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, May 22 (Yonhap) -- Cheong Wa Dae has no "conclusive" position on U.S. President Donald Trump administration's stated push for the Economic Prosperity Network, an official said Friday, reflecting Seoul's cautious approach toward the sensitive issue apparently involving China.

The initiative is understood to be "still in a planning stage" as part of various ideas on the economic sector from a global perspective, the official said.

"So, we have no conclusive answer to share with you," he said on the customary condition of anonymity.

The United States is accelerating efforts to sideline China from global supply chains amid deepening rifts between the two sides over the COVID-19 pandemic.

All-out U.S. pressure on China puts S. Korea in tricky position

At the center of the campaign is the envisioned network called an alliance of "trusted partners." The U.S. has not formally named them, but it indicated that South Korea is among targeted ones.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. is "working closely with Vietnam, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and India."

Australia and India are members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, also known as Quad, along with the U.S. and Japan.

The seven countries recently launched vice ministerial discussions on the coronavirus response.

Washington's move poses yet another dilemma for its longtime ally Seoul, which has close economic ties with Beijing.

It's reminiscent of a quandary over the Trump administration's India-Pacific strategy. South Korea has maintained a prudent stance, stating it is committed to harmonizing its New Southern Policy with the U.S. initiative and China's Belt and Road campaign.

An image of the China-U.S. conflict over the COVID-19 pandemic (Yonhap)

lcd@yna.co.kr
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