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Post-Crisis Economic and Political Change
The new trends of globalization and economic interdependence are promoting better understanding and creating greater possibilities for peaceful resolution of disputes among the countries in the region. The information revolution, the prime force of globalization, is accelerating cross-national contacts; the global market and non-governmental actors are playing larger roles. And the increasing transparency of national policies and information should also facilitate the peaceful resolution of issues among nations. As the first-ever summit between South Korea, Japan and China in November 1999 symbolizes, the three countries are eager to promote Northeast Asian cooperation. As a result of Chinese membership in the WTO, the Chinese market will be more open and trade between China and other countries of the region will expand rapidly.

The Asian financial crisis was also an important catalyst for the emergence of a new momentum in East Asian regionalism. For example, East Asia has now created the “ASEAN+3” (i.e., 10 ASEAN countries with China, Japan and South Korea). The group has held its own summits for six years in a row, has set up a “vision group” to guide its work, and holds regular meetings of finance ministers. In the midst of the global anti-terrorism effort, momentum for East Asian regional economic integration is gaining ground. In a series of meeting during November 2001, the ASEAN Plus Three leaders pushed ahead on their agenda of regional economic integration. China, Japan, and South Korea signed a Joint Declaration on the Promotion of Tripartite Cooperation at a meeting on the margin of the ASEAN+3 meeting in Bali in October 2003. They have agreed to set up a trilateral committee to coordinate and plan the cooperation among the three parties and to study the possibility of establishing a free trade area among the three countries. The three governments also agreed to strengthen dialogue on security issues.

Partly caused by economic difficulties, Asian democracies have become generally unstable. Unable to effectively deal with complex problems and challenges, democratic governments in the region, including South Korean government, have been experiencing leadership crisis. Is there any relationship between economic health and democracy? What are the prospects for Asian democracy? Clearly, there is a need to review the state of democracy in Asia.

The positive developments in Northeast Asia, such as inter-Korean rapprochement and improvements in bilateral relations among the countries of the region, provide a favorable environment for regionalism. This raises a number of questions: What are the major issues today in Asian regionalism? What are the prospects for Asian regionalism? And what are the specific implications of this emerging regionalism for South Korea?

POSCO visiting fellows will be encouraged to do research on such topics as:

  • Evaluation of South Korean economic restructuring in comparison with other Asian economies
  • Evaluation of South Korean democracy in comparison with other Asian democracies
  • Issues and prospects for Asian regionalism

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