China and Korea have seen a tremendous flowering of economic, cultural and educational exchange and cooperation since the normalization of relations on August 24, 1992. My students today include a new generation of young people from China and Korea who sincerely want the countries to work together closely and many of them have a command of Chinese language, or of Korean language, that goes beyond anything that could be found in the previous generation.
Also, my Korean and Chinese students have a global vision for what is possible in the region that is inspiring and suggests that they offer us tremendous potential. I am constantly impressed by their efforts and I hope that they can create a more secure, and a brighter, future for all of us.
Yet we face unprecedented tensions in the region because China feels increasingly that the United States military build-up is a direct threat and that it is longer aimed at Pyongyang alone. The Trump administration’s decision to do away with diplomacy by getting rid of all its senior diplomats and pulling back from its commitment to disarmament and nonproliferation has caused terrible uncertainty and raised fears. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis have made unnecessarily bellicose statements aimed at China that went beyond anything seen since the 1960s. This confrontational approach, now combined with threats of a trade war, has been supported by the confrontational approach of the Abe administration in Tokyo.
So serious is the risk of major confrontation in East Asia, or of a major arms race in the region that will profoundly destabilize the region, that we need a brave, determined and inspired response. Also, granted the terrible economic crisis today, we cannot afford to take funds from education and from adaptation to climate change for use in new weapons.
Above all Koreans and Chinese must have a clear and inspiring vision for the future. We cannot use that vague and evasive expression, “We will solve the problems with diplomacy.” We need a concrete roadmap, we need a consensus concerning that road map and we need to move forward in the forming of new and effective institutions to guarantee peace in the region.
I think that the best way to set the path for the next twenty-five years is for both countries to launch an ambitious project for the next twenty-five years that will engage leaders in scholarship, technology, business, government and security. This broad dialog must move far beyond security concerns, and even security should be defined as “human security.” We need to produce a powerful, well-written vision for the future of the region.
If we are looking for a model, I think we need to go no further than the San Francisco Conference of 1945 that brought together the United States, Russia, China, France and Great Britain as leaders, and many other nations which had recently emerged from war and colonialism, to establish a new world order dedicated to peace and universal values.
Most young people do not even know what the opening line of the United Nations Charter is:
“We the people’s of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind”
We have lost sight of the vision of the United Nations over the last thirty years. It no longer serves its role to as a break on militarism and force for peace. It has become a docile bureaucracy.
But if Korea and China work together, they can revitalize it and make it the center of a new order of peace in East Asia, we can start something of great historical significance. In that process, we will need to innovate and to bring the United Nations up to date. There have been many proposals for reform, but we must take the lead in embracing innovation.
We must both revive the original spirit which has been forgotten and also make it more immediately relevant for the future.
If we can go forward with such an effort and create a new approach to global governance that takes into account the needs of youth, the impact of technology on society and the need to respond to climate change and assure peace and stability, China and Korea can make a tremendous contribution to world civilization and set the agenda together for the future.
perhaps China should stop trying to bully and act as suzerain of its smaller neighbours. China’s transparent agenda is to re-establish its traditional hegemony over Asia.
Maybe instead of simply attacking exclusively the USA, some criticism of China and its largely negative regional role would be advisable.
We could start with honest discussions of China’s active belligerence towards Taiwan, its hypocritical and hegemonic actions towards South Korea and its non-action against North Korea – n graphic display as it sanctioned South Korea effectively but refuses to take action against North Korea – and its continued and ongoing attempts to sideline and coerce Japan.
Maybe then we could have honest discussions about the American role in Asia.
What you’ve spelled out above seems to be more a Great Power partitioning of the world into spheres of interests, in which China gets Asia – whether its Asian neighbours like it or not.
Doesn’t sound like a viable peace to me if it involves acknowledging China as master.
Sorry – edited. This is more complete.
If China wants peace and security, I have a few suggestions. Perhaps China should stop trying to bully, and act as suzerain of, its smaller neighbours. China’s transparent agenda is to re-establish its traditional hegemony over Asia, and it’s a tawdry cloak of deception it wears when it pretends not to be doing this as it builds artificial islands thousands of km from China off the coast of the Philippines or Vietnam, or positions missiles at Taiwan or enables North Korean aggression or encourages its people to attack all things Japanese or bullying the foreign Chinese press or demonizing all things not Han Chinese at home. China has been, for some time, engaging in a very ugly brand of ethno-nationalism. Despite honeyed words, its actions at home and abroad abundantly indicate that its foreign intentions are not predicated on international equality, mutual understanding and harmony.
As for the pro-China press, maybe instead of simply attacking exclusively the USA, some criticism of China and its largely negative and ambitiously hegemonic regional role would be advisable?
We could start with honest discussions of China’s active belligerence towards Taiwan, its hypocritical actions towards South Korea and its non-action against North Korea – on graphic display as it sanctioned South Korea effectively but refuses to take action against North Korea – and its continued and ongoing attempts to sideline and coerce Japan. Also, could we have a chat about China’s increasingly oppressive domestic media and its extensive attempts to subvert Chinese media abroad?
Maybe then we could have honest discussions about the American role in Asia. The last thing we need is for the USA to back off as China – an oligarchic, nationalist dictatorship, it’s important to point out – and for China to reposition itself as “Master of Asian Affairs”. Needless to say, for South Korea, this would be a wholesale disaster.
What the author above spells out is more like a Great Power partitioning of the world into spheres of interests, in which China gets Asia – whether its Asian neighbours like it or not. It doesn’t sound like a viable “peace” or “security” to me if it involves one side kowtowing and acknowledging China as master.
South Korea needs much better friends than undemocratic, belligerent, hypocritical China-as-it-is can ever possibly be.
I am not trying to defend China, which has lots of problems. But China has under 300 nuclear weapons and has not engaged in a major military action since 1979. When it comes to “undemocratic, belligerent, hypocritical” friends of Korea, I think almost everyone will agree as to where to look.
You mean, to look at North Korea?
In almost every case, it’s North Korea pushing the buttons.
The US’ major crime is not allowing NK to have its way with SK. That’s hardly aggression.
Your kidding, right?
Absolutely. has the US threatened to invade NK? In fact, throughout the 1960s-70’s, it actively restrained Sk from retaliating properly to NK aggression. The Us restrained SK after Yeonpyeong, which was, again, an artillery attack on South Korea by North Korean hotheads.
Have we forgotten the last 15 years?
It’s almost as if you fail to see NK for what it is – including all of its actions – as enabled by China.
North Korea is absolutely aggressive in posture, action and response. It rejects out of hand all conciliation that does not involve SK capitulation to Nk demands – which increase exponentially every time NK is given anything. The regime abducts its own fleeing citizns to put them in gulags and execute them in public, often after brutal torture.
Did South Korea actualyl send commandoes into NK to kill Kim Il Sung? It trained some, but the *United States* would never have allowed it. It was the US restraining South Korea throughout the Cold War. That’s hardly aggressive, now, is it?
However, North Korea has repeatedly send military commandoes into South Korea to wreak havoc and murder; on multiple occasions, it’s abducted South Koreans and “disappared” them, as well as dozens and possibly hundreds of others. In the 1960’s, it was raiding South Koran fishing boats and killing everyone aboard, but one – as defectors who actually did this have admitted, with dates, times and places.
And you want anyone to believe that the *United States* is the aggressor?
Perhaps it wasn’t the Soviet-backed armies of Kim Il Sung that surged south in 1950, intent on forcible unification and extermination – outright eradication – of political opposition, with the explicit permission of Stalin. Maybe it really was the United States that invaded North Korea.
It’s willful hallucination. In every single case, from the axe incident to the kidnapping of innocent Romanian women and their forcible marriage to resident foreigners, North Korea has been the aggressor, and the United States the restrained ally of South Korea.
Any other conclusion is ahistorical in the extreme.
Unless you view the US support of South Korea – against forcible incorporation into North Korea against its will – as aggression.
I am not just talking about North Korea. What has the US been doing overseas for the last 16 years and why? As for whether North Korea is an aggressor, the answer is that North KOrea is a corrupt and dangerous regime, but everyone knows that it was willing to sign the agreed framework and implement it. It was the US rather that pulled out of that agreement and threatened North Korea.
In the context of NK-SK, it’s not the US causing trouble; it’s North Kora, almost exclusively. Pretty much 100% of the problem in the Korean peninsula, security-wise, is North Korea.
Elsewhere, well – Taiwan: Again, Taiwan is not threatening to attack the US. 100% of the problem is intransigent, aggressive belligerence and violent rhetoric on the part of China. The US is actually far, far too restrained with Taiwan; it’s almost passive-aggressive. it would be far better were the US MORE assertive in supporting Taiwan, because China can’t be allowed to bully Taiwan. What we need in Taiwan is more open and more assertive American support of the country, not less. Its presence is stabilizing: Without the US, Taiwan could very well be reduced to a massive gulag, riven by endless rotating demonstrations against Chinese occupation.
So is this just a general anti-American Foreign policy sentiment? Because I see no radically irresponsible US behaviour in E Asia at all.
As far as North Korea is concerned, the Agreed Framework was broken by NK almost immediately; it was *always* a bad actor, and this has come out repeatedly. It was never, ever going to allow inspections or shut down its research – at any point. Its goal is unification, full stop. Nuclear weapons are the umbrella it needs to seek unification, to guarantee the US breaks its alliance with South Korea, China be damned.
This painting of the US as the aggressor in this context is beyond hallucination – it’s active denial of reality.
I hate to say it, but this is hard truth. China is not a good actor in this equation. Most of the problems in Asia are due to the presence of the government in the PRC.
Take out the beligerent, obfuscatory, openly deceitful PRC government, and you have peace in the Taiwan straits, a NK on the ropes – pushed to the wall, such that its people have a huge incentive to deal with the problem internally, which has to happen sooner or later if this situation is ever to resolve itself with Seoul and South Korean liberal democracy intact – and likely far better Japanese-Chines relations, with a less authoritarian and nationalistic government in Beijing.
No Chinese artificial islands and airstrips right off the coast of Vietnam and Malaysia (the US can hardly be blamed for this absurdity), no 40 years of backing the worst regime on the planet (NK), maybe even no genocide in 1970’s Cambodia – let’s not forget that it took a Vietnamese invasion to stop China’s hard and fast puppet-ally, the Khmer Rouge, to stop massacring its own people in Holocaust-level numbers.
Again, in each and every single case, China has been the belligerent bad guy backing the most murderous, butchering regimes. It even invaded Vietnam in 1979 in an attempt to stop Vietnam from deposing the Khmer Rouge – before it retreated with its tail between its legs as it realized it was totally over-extended.
Like I said – you can read China’s modern foreign-relations history in Asia the way you’re openly doing here only by pretending none of it ever happened.
And this is not to apologize for the US. The US in Iraq has *nothing whatsoever* to do with the strategic situation in Asia, in which China is universally and at every moment always backing the biggest killers, the worst autocrats, and the most machiavellian usurpers. China is literally the Bad Guy’s Go-To Bank and the murderers’ safe haven. Its Asian foreign policy is wholly and aggressively hegemonic.
Don’t get sucked in by its words. Look at its actions, who it’s supported, what it’s done and whose interests it’s serving to do these things. In every case, it serves countries like South Korea and Taiwan to have a powerful foreign ally to face off against China for it.
Have we forgotten about Taiwan, then, again, btw?