Event — Lecture

IIAS/ NGIZ Lecture Van Kemenade

Monday, 10 October 2005

Venue: Clingendael, Den Haag

East Asian Regionalism, Chinese-Japanese Rivalry and the need for an East Asian Security Architecture

In December, the first East Asian Summit will be held in Malaysia. Participating countries will be China, South-Korea and Japan, the ten ASEAN-states, India, New Zealand and Australia. This summit aims to promote the process of regional economic integration, through a series of freetrade zones and the creation of new regional structures for the settlement of political disputes and regional security problems, traditional as well as non-traditional (e.g. terrorism, piracy). Neither the largest country in the region, China, nor the richest country, Japan will lead this summit, but by default ASEAN. China and Japan are not in the position to lead, because they don’t accept each others leadership and cannot cooperate. In European terms it would be as if the Benelux had to lead, because France and Germany couldn't, due to their un-reconciled, deep-seated historical antagonism. Such is the situaton in East Asia in 2005.

China is a member of a - geographically - westward oriented security pact, together with Russia and the Central Asian countries: the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Japan has a military alliance with the United States, which in February infuriated China by declaring the Taiwan issue a “common strategic objective”. This alliance defines its main objective increasingly as the containment of China. While China and Japan have one of the most extensive economic relationships in the world, China can’t tolerate Japan becoming a "normal" i.e. remilitarized country, subordinated to the United States, and Japan can’t live with the emergence of China as a superpower. South-Korea still has a military alliance with the United States, but this alliance is in a state of progressive erosion. North-Korea is considered by the United States and Japan as an imminent threat, but not by the other four countries in the so called “Six party talks”, China, Russia, South-and North-Korea.

In Northeast Asia, no collective security mechanism exists, while there is only a very limited one in South-East-Asia.. The ASEAN Regional Forum is merely a consultative institution for regional security, without a treaty structure or a military organization.
Is economic integration and political harmonization in the third most important economic centre in the world possible while the old military alliances of the Cold War continue to exist ? Will the United States succeed in maintaining the status quo with its three polarisations: China and Japan, North- and South-Korea and China and Taiwan? If the answer is yes, for how long ?

This IIAS event is co-organized by the Netherlands Society for International Affairs (NGIZ) and the first in a series of five joint lectures on modern Asia. The lectures series are co-sponsored by the Van Bylandt Stichting.

Netherlands Society for International Affairs
Postbus 93539
2509 AM 's-Gravenhage
Tel. +31-70-3 249423
Fax. +31-70-3 240264

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