No matter what kind of the power configuration and regional security order are emerging in East Asia, the most critical strategic challenge for countries like Korea, with their limited hard and soft power, is how to position itself and seek ways to cope with their strategic interactions between the two superpowers. Neither ower balancing practices such as balancing against nor opportunistic bandwagoning with the rising power seem to be useful bilateral strategic schemes for Korea in the midst of great power rivalry, as shown in the cases of ASEAN countries who have sought to engage with China in order to expand economic relations, and yet avoid bandwagoning with it due to their suspicions of China's intentions in the region. Thus, Korea's strategic thoughts for changing global and regional order should be proactively developed in terms of its own growing national status and capacities, as well as from the geopolitical perspectives. In this context, the paper examines the development of China's multilateral diplomacy in East Asia and the U.S. attempt to counterbalance China in the multilateral settings. Taking a lesson from the achievements and limits of ASEAN in the regional architecture, it is argued that although Korea has few choices in terms of strengthening the Korea-US alliance and pursuing a balanced strategy of assertiveness and accommodation in its bilateral relations with regional states, the country should exert its decision-making influences on specific issues and in multilateral or minilateral settings.
Keywords: Regional security cooperation of Northeast Asia, Great power rivarly, Power divide, Balancing, bandwagoning, Hedging, minilateralism