By Kim Seung-yeon
SEOUL, Nov. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea should work together with Australia, Canada and Japan to form regional economic or security frameworks so as to create a new order free from the burden of choosing sides between the United States and China, an adviser to President Moon Jae-in said Friday.
Moon Chung-in, special foreign policy and security adviser, made the remarks during a virtual seminar, stressing that it is very unlikely the tensions between Washington and Beijing will get any better under the next U.S. administration of Joe Biden.
"The Biden administration will be using a softer tone, but the policy will be as tough as Trump's. There will be a tougher American encirclement of China, although he might be more selective in terms of technology and economy," he said in the seminar hosted by the Korean Association for Public Diplomacy.
"That will put us in an extremely difficult position. It will restore the old 'bloc diplomacy' ... in the form of a new Cold War," he said.
Moon added that a worsening of U.S.-China tensions will make it difficult to resolve the North Korea issue peacefully.
Moon suggested a strategy that moves away from the Cold War framework, saying that South Korea should work with other middle powers, like Australia, Japan and Canada, to foster new frameworks like a regional economic community and multilateral security cooperation regime.
"We should play a key role in creating a new order, so that we can get out of this bloc diplomacy," he said.
To do so, he called for a "smart" and "principled" diplomacy equipped with intelligence and flexibility, and also one that reflects national interests and public support.
Moon said that he disagrees with the so-called "muddling-through" approach, meaning Seoul walks on a tightrope between the two sides, because it's too risky considering the tensions in their relations will likely further escalate.
"It's very dangerous, given the tensions now. ... (It has) higher costs than the real benefit," he said.
He also pointed to the importance of public diplomacy at home and abroad, citing the country's now much-lauded experience in tackling COVID-19, its rapid industrialization and contributions it has since made to international development assistance.