The Evolving Regional Order
Despite increasing trends toward cooperation through the APEC process and the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the relative peace in the region, East Asia continues to experience tensions and uncertainties. The more active posture of Russia, the rapid rise of China, and a move to become a “normal” country in Japan are significantly changing the security environment and perceptions in the region. China’s “rise” will reshape the geopolitical equation in the region. Responding to the changing security dynamics of the region, Japan continues to strengthen its alliance with the United States and to enhance its military capability. The devastating Dec. 26 tsunami off Sumatra provides an opportunity for Japan to enhance its role in South and Southeast Asia. With abundant natural resources, Russia has been actively engaging in the region. The economic malaise of North Korea and its presumably related attempt to develop weapons of mass destruction also have unsettled the security environment of Northeast Asia.

The September 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent US-led anti-terror war further complicate the global environment. Fortunately, trilateral relations among the United States, Japan, and China are improving simultaneously since the terrorist attacks. China was quick to side with the U.S., albeit with reservations, and Tokyo-Beijing tensions have substantially eased. Japan increases its role in rear-area support for the war on terrorism. The new regional dynamic could provide a useful opportunity for enhanced efforts toward stability and integration in East Asia.

However, no appropriate multilateral security regime is in place in Northeast Asia. At the same time, the changed political-security environment of the region following the end of the Cold War requires the development of a new security framework in the region. Laying a foundation for durable peace in East Asia requires more than continued economic growth, it also requires the development of a regional security structure. With a better multilateral regional security framework, the peaceful dismantling of the Cold War structure on the peninsula might become possible, as might, ultimately, Korean reunification.

The East-West Center and POSCO visiting fellows will investigate some of the following topics:

  • The war on terrorism and its implications for East Asia and the Korean Peninsula
  • The impact of a rising China on the region and the two Koreas
  • Changing Korea-Japan relations
  • Japan-China rivalry and its impact on the regional order
  • Prospects for multilateral security cooperation in East Asia

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Back to Visiting Fellowships