The Emerging China-Russia Alliance, With Patricia M. Kim

Patricia M. Kim, David M. Rubenstein fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss how China views Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

March 15, 2022 — 31:35 min
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Host

James M. Lindsay

Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair Full Bio

Episode Guests

Patricia M. Kim

Show Notes

Patricia M. Kim, David M. Rubenstein fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss how China views Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 

Articles Mentioned on the Podcast

 

Yoon Suk-yeol, “South Korea Needs to Step Up: The Country’s Next President on His Foreign Policy Vision,” Foreign Affairs, February 8, 2022

 

Statements Mentioned

 

Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development, The Kremlin, February 4, 2022

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Transcript

Jim Lindsay:

Welcome to The President's Inbox, a CFR podcast about the foreign policy challenges facing the United States. I'm Jim Lindsay, Director of Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This week's topic is, The Emerging China-Russia Alliance. With me to discuss how China views Russia's invasion of Ukraine is Patricia Kim. Patty is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. She was previously a China specialist at the U.S. Institute of Peace, and she was a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Patty, thanks for joining me.

Patricia Kim:

Great to be here, Jim.

Jim Lindsay:

Now, Patty, as you know well, China has long trumpeted the ideas of sovereignty and non-interference as foundational principles of world order. Now, Russia has just invaded Ukraine, which clearly violates both principles, yet not only hasn't Beijing condemn Moscow, it has spoken about Russia as having legitimate security concerns. So explain to me the Chinese position.

Patricia Kim:

Sure. So Jim, as you say, I think the Chinese reluctance to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine has thrown into doubt the idea that China is a defender of state sovereignty and total integrity, that's thrown into doubt China's alleged position as a global responsible power. And I don't think until you know the actual invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, Chinese leaders saw real strategic downsides to their growing ties with Russia. They probably saw a lot of value in having a great power partner who's also aggrieved by "Western hegemony" and that it could work together with, to push back on encirclement and interference by the United States and its allies. But today I think Chinese leaders and analysts are likely reexamining the costs of aligning too closely with Russia, as they watch what's going on in Ukraine and the global outcry that it has prompted.

Jim Lindsay:

Could you just lay out for us what the Chinese defense is of the position it has taken so far? Because again, this would seem to run against what it has been talking about as one of the magic powers for developing nations, this idea of the sanctity of sovereignty and the idea of non-interference.

Patricia Kim:

So China is walking a very in line here. It's trying to have everything, right. It's trying to say that it supports sovereignty. It has come out to say that it is a neutral party in all of this, that it supports Ukraine sovereignty, Russia sovereignty, that it supports also Russian security concerns about NATO enlargement and so on. And so it's really trying to balance a number of different issues. And you know what's been very disturbing is that despite what they've seen, they've really doubled down to sort of support Russia's point of view that this was really caused by Western encirclement, that the West pushed Russia into a corner and therefore this conflict was inevitable. And this is what has brought scrutiny onto China because it's sort of come out to bat for Russia.

Jim Lindsay:

So do you think that Xi Jinping had a heads up from Vladimir Putin that this invasion was going to take place? Or do you think that the way this is unfolded has come as a surprise to Xi and other Chinese leaders?

Patricia Kim:

So I think there have been a number of questions about just exactly how much Xi knew before the invasion, whether he was tricked by Putin or he enabled Putin to wage his war. And we may never know just how much was known in Beijing at what levels. I think some analysts have made the case that Beijing seems to have been played by Russia and that Chinese leaders genuinely believed Russian counterparts that this "special military operation" would be very limited. It would be done quickly. It wouldn't include strikes on cities. And I think Putin probably believed that himself and analysts who make the case point to the failure of the Chinese embassy in Kyiv to evacuate 6000 plus Chinese nationals in Ukraine, as strong evidence that Beijing was indeed caught off guard.

Patricia Kim:

But there's also been reporting in the New York Times, for instance, that has shown that Western intelligence reports did reveal that senior Chinese official had some direct level of knowledge of what Moscow was planning and they warned Russia not to invade before the end of the Winter Olympics.

Patricia Kim:

And so again, I don't know if we'll ever solve this and know exactly how much Xi Jinping knew. We don't know if he tried to stop Putin or maybe he just took the path of least resistance. But I think the fact that, although there was this risk that this invasion would happen. And I think the Biden administration and other European officials had been warning the Chinese about this consistently for months, the fact that Beijing decided to go ahead and still roll out the red carpet for Putin before the Olympics to have Xi Jinping's first in person summit with a foreign leader and to release this unprecedented China-Russia joint statement, where China explicitly express support for Russia's grievances and its security demands, vis-à-vis NATO in Europe is a big deal. And China can't just wash its hands of that. And so it deserves to be scrutinized.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, let's talk a bit about that February 4 joint statement, Patty, it spoke of the Sino-Russian strategic partnership as one with no limits, now which seems to be quite a big thing to say, but it's not a formal alliance in the nature of let's say, NATO, what exactly is this strategic partnership?

Patricia Kim:

Sure. So first on China-Russia relations, I think it's been quite interesting and alarming to watch the steady strengthening of this relationship over the last 10 plus years. And especially under Xi Jinping's rise to power, there's been a real boosting of the Sino-Russian partnership and growth of economic political and military ties. And this has been really interesting because China and Russia considered each other their biggest rivals just a few decades ago.

Jim Lindsay:

They almost went to war in 1969.

Patricia Kim:

Exactly. And so they have that complex history and China has also traditionally shied away from formal alliances, both on principle and a desire not to bind its fate too closely with other states. Having said that, I think there's been sort of a recalculation in Beijing as Chinese leaders began to look at the United States tighten its own alliance networks around the world, especially in its own backyard in Asia. And it began to see sort of real strategic value in drawing partners like Russia closer, as it looked at long term competition with the United States.

Patricia Kim:

Now going to the statement. So the China-Russia joint statement is quite extraordinary, it's almost 20 pages long. It covers a wide array of topics from China and Russia's common views on values and the global security architecture. And in the document, it makes clear that China and Russia has shared grievances vis-à-vis the west, that they see deep parallels between their respective situations, with NATO closing in Russia and the US alliance network in Asia closing in on China. And they also make clear in this statement that China and Russia firmly believe that there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach to democracy and that the west has no right to define what it means to be in democracy and try to impose its standards on others. So if there's a lot of commonality there between the two countries, that's made clear in the statement.

Patricia Kim:

Also in the statement, Russia reiterates support for the One-China principle and its opposition to Taiwan's independence and China in turn expresses sympathy and support for Russia's demands for security guarantees in Europe. Now I think one thing to note though, is that there is no military commitment per se, for the two to defend each other, help each other defend against these grievances. And so that's kind of one place where the alliance hasn't gone to yet

Jim Lindsay:

A couple of words you've used Patty, have really stuck with me, you talked about aggrievement, you've talked about grievances, is this strategic partnership really one that unites both countries in sense, along an access of aggrievement, rather than any positive or shared vision of the world they want to create?

Patricia Kim:

Well, I think as I just talked about, there was this idea that the two champion about the West not having the right to define what it means to be a democracy. So I don't know if you would say that's a positive vision, but they both want to make a world where states can do whatever they want.

Jim Lindsay:

Autocrats can do whatever they want.

Patricia Kim:

Exactly. Autocrats can do whatever they want inside their borders and not have to be criticized for it or sanctioned for it. So I don't know if you would say that's a positive vision, but that is a shared vision, that is based on shared grievances. And so I think that gets at your question. And also I think it's really interesting to see both states really work together to push back against the West and that they see value there. And so I think that's another key point in this joint statement.

Jim Lindsay:

Patty, while Beijing has been clear to talk about Russia's legitimate security interest and to criticize the West for pushing Russia into a corner, China, hasn't gone so far as to vow to break the sanctions effort that the West is imposed upon Russia. And indeed as best we can tell. And again, it's early on, Chinese companies look to be abiding by Western sanctions. How do you explain that?

Patricia Kim:

So Chinese leaders have made clear that they oppose on principle the use of sanctions and that they will continue to promote normal trade cooperation with Russia. And they've also made clear that they believe the sanctions that are being imposed by the West on Russia will not help diffuse the conflict and will just lead to a further global economic downturn. And so that's sort of the Chinese official position. I think according to early reporting, it seems like Chinese banks and businesses are quietly working to comply with sanctions. But of course I think that the bigger question is, what will China do in the coming months and weeks if the conflict drags on, and if sanctions remain a on Russia, will China really take significant steps to try to soften the blow of sanctions or will it quietly comply looking at its own economic interests, which are tied to domestic stability concerns and China's ability to compete in the long run against the United States.

Patricia Kim:

So that's a big question. What will China do going forward? And China certainly will work hard to ensure that precedents are not set that could be used against China in the future, such as kicking Russia out of the WTO, which is one idea we've seen in the media recently. China will not want to go there. But I think if we do see the Chinese leadership taking substantive steps to strengthen trade with Russia, even as this jeopardizes China's ties with the United States, Europe and key Asian states, and it does this at a cost to China's economic bottom line, that would be a real ominous indicator that the China-Russia strategic cooperation truly has no limits.

Jim Lindsay:

What do you think the likelihood is Patty that's going to happen?

Patricia Kim:

I think that's a very interesting question. I don't know if China knows the answer itself, right? It's probably looking around and seeing where are these sanctions going? Where is global public opinion going? Is there going to be a ceasefire and will this all kind of settle down? So I think we'll have to see, I think they're going to be watching closely, there have been talks about, oh, will Chinese firm step up and buy more Russian oil or are they going to scoop up discounted stakes in Russian energy firms now that the West has left? And I think so far the indication is that there hasn't been a real rush to do this, as people are looking around and saying, "What does this mean for secondary sanctions on us? And what would this mean for Chinese economic interest?" So I think they'll be watching to see and make decisions as they go.

Jim Lindsay:

I was wondering Patty, if you think that president Xi may be having a bit of buyer's remorse over Russia's policy, I will note that this is a big year for Xi, big Party Congress in the fall, expectation is that party meeting is going to give him a third term as president, breaking the two term limit that has existed in recent years. So presumably what Xi wants in this big year is a lot of stability, but the invasion of Ukraine is generating a lot of instability. You have a lot of economic tumult. You just mentioned how China could be affected by a variety of issues kicked off by the invasion of Ukraine. But also it's pretty clear that the Chinese reaction to the Russian invasion is heightening concerns about China's own ambitions. So is perhaps Mr. Xi beginning to look for an exit ramp of his own?

Patricia Kim:

I can't imagine that people are not thinking about those questions in Beijing, including Xi himself, as you mentioned, I think the timing could not be worse for President Xi, who needs a smooth ride to the 20th Party Congress, this fall, where he's expecting to, but nothing's ever guaranteed, but where he's expecting to secure an unprecedented third term him in office. So he really does need a stable environment for this. I think it's not yet clear where the debate will land in Beijing, will it dig in its heels and keep its strategic partners close, including Russia, or is it going to choose to use its influence constructively and up for more balanced ties around the world?

Patricia Kim:

And I think calculations will likely include assessments about how much China will gain from its comradery with Russia down the road, whether their solidarity will pay concrete dividends if China is ever caught in a serious escalation of its own with the United States, perhaps over Taiwan or some other core issue. Also part of the calculation will be whether China consist gain economic growth and prosperity in isolation from the West. And whether the Chinese people will tolerate the profound economic and diplomatic costs and their inability to access the broader world if China continues to stick very closely with Russia. Walking through these questions, it seems very clear to me that China has so much more to gain by maintaining balanced ties around the world rather than huddling with Russia. But of course you know Beijing will have to come to its own conclusions.

Jim Lindsay:

Patty, you used a very interesting phrase, debates in Beijing, and that suggests that more than one person is involved in decision making. When I look at Russia, it appears that Vladimir Putin has deinstitutionalized the Russian political system, everything hangs on him. To what extent has President Xi succeeded in doing something similar in China?

Patricia Kim:

There are others who study Chinese domestic politics much closer than I do, but I think it's been very clear that Xi Jinping has amassed just an incredible amount of power, that he definitely is at the very top of any sort of decision making in China. That doesn't mean you know he's making decisions just solely alone, I mean there still is a government apparatus underneath him. Chinese officials still do collect for instance, reports from government sponsored think tanks in China and so on. And so I think there is sort of a mechanism to inform Xi, but he is very much as you suggest at the top, he's making those decisions. I think the Xi-Putin relationship was very much a personal relationship. And perhaps that explains the extraordinary steps that China has taken to really side with Russia or to give support to various Russian narratives about why it is engaging in this aggression, vis-à-vis Ukraine. And so, yeah, I would say that Xi Jinping his personal leadership certainly is a big factor in all of this.

Jim Lindsay:

I'm curious, Patty, to what extent do you think the President Xi will try to square the circle by injecting China as a mediator into the Ukraine crisis? I will note recently President Xi told his French and German counterparts that it was important to work, to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even running out of control. Could we see President Xi, try to emerge as the peacemaker, the arbitrator who comes in and settles this conflict?

Patricia Kim:

Well, I think President Xi would certainly welcome the opportunity probably to recover China's image after all of this. Beijing's consistent position has been that it supports peaceful negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, and it has offered to play a mediating role, but it hasn't really put any concrete proposals on the tape able, other than saying that it supports peaceful negotiations.You know there have been suggestions by some that a phone call from Xi could stop Putin's war of aggression. I think that's highly unlikely. I don't think that Xi can force Putin to stop an invasion that he's already begun, but this isn't to say that Xi or China doesn't have any influence. I think as Russia's close to strategic partner, its potential economic lifeline in the face of global isolation, Beijing certainly has greater sway with Moscow than any other state.

Patricia Kim:

So again we know, what could Beijing do? It hasn't put any concrete ideas on the table. One idea that I've heard floated in academic settings among Chinese experts is that you know maybe Beijing could have host multilateral negotiations akin to the six-party talks where China plays you know the role of hosts like it did in the past.

Jim Lindsay:

Six-party talks being the talks that involved or tried to get North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program.

Patricia Kim:

Exactly. And so China often played hosts to those talks, the United States, South Korea, North Korea, Russia and Japan were also a part of those talks. And so again, this is not an official proposal, but it's one that's been floated. I don't know if this is something that Putin would agree to though. Would he show up at Beijing? One key point about the six-party talks is that in 2003, and this is back when it was the three party talks between China, United States and North Korea. China actually did a great service by sending a very stern message to Kim Jong, that it expected Kim Jong to show up at the negotiations. It cut the supply of oil for about three days to North Korea. And I think this had a big impact on North Korean thinking. And so it is conceivable that China could perhaps put that kind of pressure on Moscow, at least a signal that it would be in Putin's interest to come to the negotiating table sooner rather than later.

Jim Lindsay:

Patty, let's put aside for a moment how Xi is evaluating the crisis and whether he sees it as a threat or an opportunity or a mix of both, I'm curious to get your assessment of how the ripple effects of the war could affect China and what their impact might be. I have in mind in particular, the fact that China is the world's biggest importer of oil. It's also the biggest buyer of food from around the world. One thing that's obviously happened in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is that oil prices have spiked, likely to stay high for quite some time. But a longer term problem is that food prices are going to spike Ukraine, bread basket of Europe, one of the biggest exporters of crops like barley, wheat, corn, and also Russia itself being a big producer of a variety of grains, as well as the ingredients that go into fertilizer. To what extent could the Ukraine war, which is likely to drag on, could disrupt this year's planting and growing season, come back to create great economic harm in China?

Patricia Kim:

So I guess Jim, as you say, the Chinese are the biggest importer of food. Food stability is a very big problem for are China, but also other countries that rely on Ukrainian wheat and grains to feed their populations. So I think that will be an issue of concern for China. I mean it's interesting that China and Russia signed a grain deal, which involves China dropping import restrictions on Russian wheat sometime in early February. And they apparently lifted the restrictions on the day of the invasion, on February 24th. So you know that's very interesting. So yeah, I think that will be an area of concern.

Patricia Kim:

Another, in terms of oil, yes, the prices have gone up, but others have floated the possibility of China's being able to scoop up Russian oil on the cheap. I don't know if that's really happened at significant degree yet because of the uncertainties about transportation of oil and again, concerns about secondary sanctions. And so we'll see how that pans out for China.

Jim Lindsay:

You're right. And again, one thing I should point out if you get to the issue of gas, part of the challenge for China is that the pipelines that go from Russia to Europe, don't also go to China. So the fact we have gas being produced in some parts of Russia doesn't mean it can be easily diverted to China. I'm curious Patty, given that there is potential that the Chinese themselves could feel in economic shock from what has happened in Ukraine, which could create unrest, unhappiness in a year, in which again, Xi is looking forward to what he hopes will be his public coronation. What is the Chinese government telling the Chinese people about what is happening in Ukraine? Does China allow Chinese media to provide a fair and balanced story or are they putting their thumb on the scale and making sure that the Chinese people get a pro-Russian view of the war?

Patricia Kim:

So the Chinese media has been very careful about towing the official line and making sure not to call the Russian invasion of Ukraine an actual invasion. There's been evidence of Chinese media sort of parroting or using Russian propaganda sources to cover what is going on Ukraine rather than sort of open source reporting. And of course, this has a lot to do with making sure that the Chinese official line is supported by what's being shown in the media. And of course you know if people were to see what is actually going on in Ukraine, I think that would a lot of questions for Chinese citizens. "Why are we siding with Russia or why do we still have the strategic partnership with Russia?" And that could come back and hurt Beijing. And so I think there's a lot of carefulness there.

Patricia Kim:

I think it's been quite disturbing also to see Chinese diplomats and state media organizations amplifying the Russian conspiracy theory about the US Department of Defense, allegedly financing, a bio weapon lab in Ukraine, which the White House has come out to say this is a crazy idea. What's interesting is how much of this is a fully coordinated propaganda campaign between the two countries or is it more of a loosely coordinated one in which Beijing is essentially helping Russia deflect attention from the fact that Putin is the actual aggressor in the current conflict? I'm not really sure which one it is, but there is coordination there. And I think there's also an element of revenge here. I think Chinese officials have long complained that the US government has amplified what China calls conspiracy theories about what's happening inside Xinjiang or the origins of the COVID-19 virus. And so they see this as sort of fair retaliation, and I think it just reflects how low the US-China relationship has become.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, let's talk about that question, Patty, where do you see the ripple effects of the Ukraine war landing in terms of US-China relations? Is it a case that the Chinese are going to double down on Russia or we're going to sort of solidify this divide between what we call the democrats and the autocrats, or do you see Xi may be deciding it might be smart to make a course correction, to find some way to limit the number of countries that are angry with or frightened by Chinese foreign policy.

Patricia Kim:

So I think China's unwillingness to condemn the Russian invasion and its insistence most recently by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, that the China-Russia relationship remains ironclad even after watching what Russia is doing in Ukraine have only hardened many views inside Washington about Beijing's true strategic intentions and its orientation. I think it's really thrown into doubt this idea that the United States and China could cooperate conceivably in global hotspots. So that is one area that has always been cited as an area where the US and China, despite competition elsewhere could and should work together to ensure that countries like North Korea, don't continue to expand their nuclear weapons or that we can get a deal on Iran and so on. But I think watching what's going on and how the Chinese have yet to sort of disavow or distance themselves from Russia are sort of hardening the skepticism of China in inside the beltway.

Jim Lindsay:

Well, let me ask you about the one specific issue that people in Washington are consumed by, and that is Taiwan. Do you see the current crisis having any implications for the future of Taiwan?

Patricia Kim:

So I think there are a number of implications of the war in Ukraine for the situation in Taiwan. And obviously it's still ongoing. And so we can't speak definitively to say, "Oh, these are the exact lessons that Beijing will draw from the Ukraine crisis." I think we'll have to see how it plays out and how it ends, but you know certainly I think the crisis and the way it's played out has shown that it's not easy to take over a country or a territory when the people of that territory are dead set against absorption. And so I think Putin's inability to swiftly conduct his so-called special military operation in Ukraine as was expected and the Russian military setbacks, despite their military superiority should disabuse any notions in Beijing that militarily taking Taiwan would be an easy task, even as the military balance in the Taiwan straight shifts in China's favor.

Patricia Kim:

China is also undoubtedly drawing lessons about the potential to become an international pariah and to become economically isolated overnight as it watches through the worldwide outrage that has led to quick sort of unifying actions between the United States, Europe and key states and Asia that who work to get the sweeping sanctions regime together despite the cost to their own economic bottom line. So I think this is shown as a proof of concept of the consequences that China would face if it were to engage in an unprovoked attack on Taiwan. Of course the pessimistic view is that this is only you know added fuel to Beijing's efforts to become self-reliant, to de-risk its own supply chains, to reduce its reliance on foreign components and its overall vulnerability to Western sanctions so that it could be better prepared for some sort of contingency in Taiwan, if, and when it faces it's own sanctions package.

Jim Lindsay:

I think this latter point is really important Patty, because I think you're quite right. Obviously one of the choices the Chinese are going to have to make is, do you want to continue with the current system or do you decide to preemptively withdraw from it, have strategic decoupling? I don't think that means necessarily total cut off of trade with the West, but to reduce your engagement in those areas that are strategically critical. Talk a lot about the vulnerability of China when it comes to high technology, particularly, semiconductors and the like. So I think that's something really interesting to keep in mind and keep an eye on. And what's also interesting, of course is here in Washington, the idea of strategic to coupling is quite popular.

Jim Lindsay:

But back to the first half of your point, I'm curious, do you think there's a chance that Chinese military leaders are looking at how the Russian army has fought and come to the conclusion that military operations may be harder to carry out than they anticipated? I know most military experts seem a bit stumped at how much the Russian army has struggled in Ukraine, given that there have been so much talk about modernization. And this is an army that has some experience with warfare, whereas China, which is also investing quite heavily in its military, hasn't fought a significant military engagement since the late 1970s in a ignominious war with Vietnam, which may lead Chinese officials to be a bit more circumspect about how well their military might operate. On the other hand, they might simply say, "We're just better at this." What's your sense?

Patricia Kim:

I don't have any special insight now onto what's being talked about inside the Chinese military, but I can't imagine that they're not watching along with the rest of the world to seeing what's developing out there. Again, you know I think watching Russia sort of flail in Ukraine has to give them pause about what they could do in Taiwan. And what's interesting is that I think Taiwanese voices have also been saying, "Oh, we need to watch what's going on in Ukraine and learn from them." And you've really seen Taiwanese voices saying, "What's going on in Ukraine is a lesson for us on the fact that we need to boost our own self-defense capabilities. We need to boost our own asymmetric capabilities and so on."

Patricia Kim:

And so I think many people are drawing all kinds of lessons and the implications of what's going on in Ukraine for Taiwan, I think has been and could be spinned in a number of ways.

Jim Lindsay:

I want to ask one last question, Patty, I want to take advantage of expertise you have, it's not about China per se. It is about the recent election in South Korea that is bringing new president to office with a more conservative bent who is quite critical of President Moon Jae-in's policies, both toward China and toward North Korea. Maybe give us just a short summary of what we can expect to see happening in South Korea under Mr. Yoon's presidency.

Patricia Kim:

Sure. So president elect, Yoon actually had an article in foreign affairs where he lays out some of the foreign policy priorities that he would pursue if elected. And so in that article, he talks about really that South Korea can't afford to keep its strategic ambiguity, that it needs to stand up as a democracy and needs to double down-

Jim Lindsay:

By strategic ambiguity, you mean not picking between the United States and China?

Patricia Kim:

Yes. That's right. And I think that's been sort of the common criticism among many conservatives of the Moon Jae-in administration that South Korea hasn't benefited by trying to walk a fine line between the United States and China. And that it's really missing out as the US and other key allies move forward with a variety of economic and military cooperation efforts under frameworks like the Quad and so on. And so I think there's going to be a real effort by the upcoming administration to try to integrate South Korea, and to link up with these sorts of initiatives.

Patricia Kim:

At the same time, you know I think there's a recognition across both sides of a bipartisan or multi-partisan recognition in South Korea that China, nevertheless is a key economic partner. It's a neighbor. And so they need to stabilize ties. And I think this new South Korean administration is going to try to say, "We're going to abide by our own interests and values. These are not necessarily US interests or US values, but these are South Korean values and interests. And then we're going to base our policies off of those." I think it's a promising start. It's not going to be easy. Obviously Yoon faces a very challenging strategic environment. And so we'll see where he goes.

Jim Lindsay:

Okay. So I think the message here is stay tuned.

Patricia Kim:

That's right.

Jim Lindsay:

On that note, I'm going to close up the President's Inbox for this week. My guest has been Patricia Kim, a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Patty, thanks for joining me.

Patricia Kim:

It was my pleasure.

Jim Lindsay:

Please subscribe to the President's Inbox on Apple Podcast, Spotify, wherever you listen, and leave us a review, they help us get noticed and improve the show. You can find the books and articles mentioned in this episode, as well as a transcript of our conversation on the podcast page, for the President's Inbox on cfr.org. As always opinions expressed in the President's Inbox are solely those are the hosts or our guests, none of CFR, which takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. Today's episode was produced by Zoe Collis with senior producer, Jeremy Sherlick. Zoe also did double duty as our recording engineer. Thank you as always Zoe. Special thanks go to Margaret Gach for her assistance. This is Jim Lindsay. Thanks for listening.

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United States

Violence during the election season undermines the United States’ democracy, its relationship with allies, and its strength against adversaries.

Burkina Faso

The latest military coup d’état would seem to be the least of Burkina Faso’s problems.

Iran

 Iran is seeing its biggest protests since 2019 over the death of Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini. Pro-women, anti-morality police demonstrations evolving into broader anti-government protests. Drawing international support and a crackdown by the regime.