China is Korea’s main trade partner in East Asia and one of its key economic and trade partners worldwide. The two countries have complementary industrial structure and a long history of trade exchanges. However, against the backdrop of a return to global trade protectionism and the politicization of international affairs with Yoon Suk-yeol coming to power, South Korea has undertaken a strong trade shift toward the United States (US), triggering a change in the pattern of economic cooperation in East Asia and challenging the regional trade structure. A review of the trade policy agenda of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration toward the US and China, along with a comparative review of Korea’s foreign trade stance under Moon Jae-in, allows for an analysis of the turnaround and characteristics of Yoon’s trade policy toward China during his tenure. The implications for global trade governance and regional security are further analyzed with an aim of finding a Nash equilibrium in trade cooperation among East Asian countries.
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