Regional Political and Security Order
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States significantly altered the security outlook and agenda in East Asia. Terrorism moved to the top of the international agenda. The common interests highlighted by the September 11 events have improved the atmosphere of large power relations--U.S.-Japan, U.S.-Russia, and U.S.-China relations--and provided an opportunity to fundamentally transform long-term security tensions in the region.

This positive development has not yet changed all aspects of the regional security landscape. There are strong elements of continuity. The longstanding regional flashpoints--the Korean peninsula, the Taiwan Strait, and the South China Sea--remain essentially unchanged, and any of them could reemerge as a serious threat to regional stability. With the rapid expansion of China's economy and political influence and Japan's move toward becoming a "normal" state, the China-Japan rivalry may intensify. North Korea's programs for producing weapons of mass destruction have received increased attention, as the United States gropes for a new preemptive security strategy after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Most Asian nations want to maintain peace and stability in the aftermath of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis and to guarantee an environment favorable for continued economic growth. With increasing economic interdependence, there have been some positive developments in the region. Through the so-called "ASEAN plus Three" dialogue, South Korea, China, and Japan have been promoting close cooperation since 1999. The Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group, which was established by the U.S., Japan, and South Korea to coordinate their policies toward North Korea, has produced an atmosphere of closer security consultation between Japan and South Korea. More recently, the six-party talks concerning nuclear issues in North Korea represent a significant development of multilateral security dialogue, with participation by major powers in the region, and they may become a good precedent for multilateral solutions for regional security issues. The changing security environment of the region requires the development of a new security framework, including a multilateral security regime.

POSCO visiting fellows are encouraged to explore these changing security dynamics, the emerging regional order, and their short-term and long-term implications for South Korea.