At the close of China's 18th Party Congress as well as the 12th National People's Congress, the new leadership under Xi Jinping assumed power for the next 10 years. Facing the growing necessity to respond to a number of internal and external challenges in accordance with its foreign policy objectives, China's new leadership is expected to pursue 'responsible power diplomacy' while simultaneously continuing its aggressive moves such as the military buildup. With regard to U.S.-China relations, the two countries are likely to continue to show the repeating patterns of cooperation and conflict, even though China has recently begun to promote ‘a new type of great power relationship’ with the U.S. in an attempt to forge mutually beneficial relations based on close dialogue and cooperation. Regarding China's maritime disputes on its periphery, China is likely to maintain a hard-line stance to defend its 'core interests'. However, China is also seeking to pursue more sophisticated and balanced approaches in foreign policy by placing equal emphasis on diplomatic measures as reflected in its 'charm offensive' policy. In the wake of North Korea's third nuclear test, the international community is paying closer attention to China's North Korea policy. But, it still remains to be seen if the Chinese government signals a shift from the current strategic dilemma and seeks other alternative approaches to manage and ultimately resolve Pyongyang's nuclear problems.
Under this circumstance, the ROK government should prevent any potential spill-over effects stemming from the deteriorating U.S.-China relations on the Korean Peninsula. Similarly, it is equally important for Seoul to increase a possibility that the cooperative and collaborative relationship between the U.S. and China contributes toward achieving the ROK's strategic objectives, which include the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, denuclearization of North Korea and development of inter-Korean relations. At the same time, the ROK government should maintain a strategic balance between the ROK-U.S. alliance and the ROK-China strategic cooperative partnership as well. In particular, the ROK government needs to take advantage of China's 'responsible power diplomacy' in its policy toward China and prepare its own strategic leverage against Beijing's assertive behavior in foreign policy. Moreover, the ROK should also upgrade the existing strategic dialogue at the vice foreign ministerial level with China to further strengthen strategic bilateral cooperation in the coming years.