Peace and community building in Northeast Asia

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<ul><li><p>ORIGINAL PAPER</p><p>Peace and community building in Northeast Asia</p><p>PAN Guang</p><p>Published online: 4 March 2008# Springer-Verlag 2007</p><p>Abstract This topic involves some difficulties, one of which is about the concept ofNortheast Asia. Broadly speaking, Northeast Asia should include China, Japan,Korean Peninsula, Russias Far East, and Mongolia. It is obviously not possible toaddress complex issues in such a broad region within several pages. Therefore, thispaper shall focus on the main part of Northeast Asia, i.e., China, Japan, and Korea.</p><p>Historical issues and new nationalism</p><p>The interchanges among peoples in Northeast Asia, especially those among theChinese, Japanese and Koreans, have taken place for at least 20 centuries. Japaneseand Korean cultures drew upon Chinese culture, and also influenced Chinese culturein return. The two millennia process of cultural exchanges among Chinese, Japaneseand Korean peoples has mainly been characterized by friendly communication andmutual learning, with conflicts lasting no more than 100 years in total, or no morethan one twentieth of the whole time. However, it is right this one twentieth that hasgiven rise to the so-called historical issues or problems, constituting emotionalbarriers impeding the relations among the three, mainly the SinoJapanese andKoreanJapanese relations. Although former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abepaid visits to China and Korea shortly after taking office, which alleviated theproblem to a considerable extent, it is understood by many that historical issuescannot get resolved quickly. It is agreed by all that, to resolve the historical issues, asensible principle to take is viewing history as a mirror while orienting towards thefuture. In the long run, neighbors cannot teach Japan how to act, which means thatonly the Japanese themselves may finally remove the historical barriers, as theGermans have done. Of course, before the final resolution happens, we should notallow the barriers to seriously restrain the normal relations among the three nations.</p><p>AEJ (2008) 6:119127DOI 10.1007/s10308-007-0162-y</p><p>P. Guang (*)The Institute of Eurasian Studies, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, 7/622 Huaihai Zhonglu,Shanghai, Chinae-mail:</p></li><li><p>In comparison with history, the rise of new nationalist sentiments in China, Japan,and Korea may produce a greater impact on the peace and development in NortheastAsia. The young generations of contemporary China, though having not experiencedthe pains of history, have not forgotten the tragic episodes when China was bullied byforeign powers, and they have developed a great sense of pride in the nationalachievements made since Deng Xiaoping initiated reforms and opening-up 30 yearsago. Having witnessed the difficult transformation in the former Soviet Union area andformer Yugoslav states in the 1990s, and growing up in the prosperity brought aboutby Deng Xiaopings policy, Chinese young people would rather that China continuedto take an incremental approach of development, with unity, stability and steadyeconomic growth forming a solid basis for such a gradualist strategy. Therefore, it isunderstandable that the young generation in China, elites among them in particular,feel very sensitive about any outside act that may affect Chinas unity, stability andsteady economic growth, and would not conceal their responses in face of such acts.The massive demonstrations staged in China following the bombing of the Chineseembassy in Belgrade in May 1999 gave a very good example. It was not ideology, butnational interests that played the role. Similar examples can be found with regard tothe SinoJapanese relationship. The protests against Japan in April 2005 were drivenmainly by nationalist sentiments unrelated to ideology. A most sensitive issue for theChinese is Taiwan. The young generations in China are strongly concerned aboutexternal forces using various means to prevent and even sabotage the Chinesereunification or to control the island. So any such outside act is closely watched and tobe reacted to.</p><p>In Japan, a new wave of nationalism is also on the rise, which has led to a lot oftalking about the so-called China threat. It is noteworthy that the China threatargument has expanded from political and security aspects to economic aspects inthe wake of strong Chinese economic growth and the consequent competition withJapan in energy and raw materials. Fred Bergsten, a noted American economist isquoted as saying, Staying in Japan for two days only, I was surprised to hear manybiased words about China, which make me worried. The Japanese concerns are verysimilar to those that Americans had about Japan back in the 1970s.1 In SouthKorea, there are also numerous expressions of new nationalism, especially anti-Japan sentiments raised for historical and island dispute reasons.2 Recently, there arealso demonstrations against the ROKUS free trade agreement and concerns aboutthe impact of Chinas rise on Korean interests.</p><p>Obviously, such uneasy feelings of viewing others as a real or potential threathave become psychological barriers hampering the development of ChinaJapanKorea relations and peace and community building in Northeast Asia. Such feelingscan work with emotional barriers of historical issues, and reinforce each other in timeof difficulties. In comparison with historical issues, those contemporary concerns arebased on frictions of real interests, and may be even more difficult to deal with.</p><p>1 New York Times, November 20, 2001. Also see Japans Rising Nationalism Enrages Asia, TheObserver, London (UK), July 15, 2001.2 See Seouls Younger Leaders Fear Tokyo More Than Pyongyang,</p><p>120 P. Guang</p></li><li><p>Exchange and cooperation as the mainstream</p><p>Despite numerous problems and contradictions, it should be acknowledged thatexchange and cooperation form the mainstream of international relations inNortheast Asia. From a Chinese perspective, this paper would focus on thedevelopment of the exchange and cooperative relations between China and Japan,and between China and South Korea.</p><p>Since the establishment of their formal diplomatic relations in 1972, China andJapan have witnessed fast development in their bilateral interactions. Trade betweenthe two, merely $1.04 billion in 1972, exceeded $100 billion in 2002, and jumpedfurther to $207.6 billion in 2006.3 The doubling from $100 billion to $200 billiontook only 4 years, and the total trade volume increased by nearly 200 times in the35 years. The accumulated Japanese investment in China is now $58 billion, with atotal of over 30,000 business projects.4 While in 1972 merely several thousandJapanese visited China, with almost no Chinese visiting Japan, the number of mutualvisitors approximated 5 million in 2006.5 Meanwhile, 233 pairs of cities haveformed sisterly relationships, and more and more people are now studying orworking in the other country.6 A good example is Shanghai, the authors hometown,where over 50,000 Japanese citizens live and work on a long-term basis.</p><p>Regarding the SinoROK relationship, the year 2007 marked the 15th anniversaryof its normalization. Friendly bilateral relations have developed comprehensivelyover the past 15 years, with economic and trade relations growing in an especiallyfast manner. In 1992 the trade volume between two countries was only $5 billion.But in 2006 it grew dramatically to $134.3 billion, increasing by 26 times andmaking each a major trade partner of the other.7 In the meantime, bilateralinvestment has expanded as impressively. By the end of 2006 the number of Koreaninvested companies in China had exceeded 30,000 with an accumulated capital of$35 billion. 8More and more Chinese companies are now making their business inSouth Korea. People-to-people exchange has also become much closer between twocountries. According to the figures of 2006 over 500,000 South Koreans are nowliving in China, and visitors to each other surpass 5 million a year, with nearly 800flights shuttling between two countries every week.9 Of every three overseasstudents studying in China, there is one from South Korea. On the other hand,Chinese students in South Korea have now reached 24,000. By the way, tenthousands of students from ROK, including primary and middle school pupils, visitthe Museum of Provisional Government of Republic of Korean located in Shanghai,and this city also has a little Seoul where many Koreans reside in.</p><p>3 Website of the General Administration of Customs of the PRC: Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, April 4, 2007.5 Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, April 4, 2007.6 Wen Jiabao: Speech at the National Diet (parliament) of Japan, Tokyo, April 12, 2007.7 Website of the General Administration of Customs of the PRC: Wen Jiabao: Speech at the luncheon with Korean and Chinese entrepreneurs, Seoul, April 11, 2007.9 Wen Jiabao: Speech at the luncheon with Korean and Chinese entrepreneurs, Seoul, April 11, 2007.</p><p>Peace and community building in Northeast Asia 121</p></li><li><p>Recently, especially after Shinzo Abe became the Japanese Prime Minister,meetings among leaders of China, Japan and South Korea become more regularized.The seventh meeting of Chinese, Japanese and South Korean leaders in Cebu, thePhilippines in January 2007 decided, while further promoting the political, economicand, cultural cooperation among the three countries, to expand cooperation totreasury, finance, science and technology, healthcare, tourism, logistics, andexchange among teenagers.10 It was also decided that 2007 would be a Year ofCultural Interchange among China, Japan, and South Korea. 11Along with this, thethree countries are now continuing their active participation in such processes asASEAN plus 3, ASEAN plus 3 plus India, Australia and New Zealand, APEC, andASEM, where they all play major roles. And significantly, the three countries have,by working together with the United States, Russia and DPRK, made progress in thesix-party talks regarding the North Korean nuclear issue, as shown by thebreakthrough in February, June and October 2007.</p><p>Principles for peace and community building</p><p>The challenge that we face now is how to move away the barriers obstructing thefurther growth of our relations in the 21st century, so as to realize the ambitioustarget of constructing lasting peace and community in Northeast Asia. It is believedthe following principles are worthy our attention.</p><p>The first principle is to increase mutual trust and reduce mutual suspicion, whichmeans to enhance our confidence-building measures while minimizing our mutualmisunderstanding. China used to have almost incessant conflicts with the SovietUnion along their over 7,000-km-long border. However, as a result of our mutualconfidence-building, the complex problems left over from history became resolvedin a matter of several years. This presents a striking contrast to the vicious circle ofhate and violence in Middle East where the Israelis and Palestinians and other Arabshave no basic trust at all. To increase mutual trust and reduce mutual suspicionbetween China and Japan, political leaders, scholars and the media can all playsignificant roles. Not long ago, a Chinese scholar wrote an article, arguing that it isnot possible for Japan to return to the militarist road, for these reasons: 1) theexisting constitution and political system do not allow the return to a militaristregime; 2) with the strong influence from values of individualism nurtured duringthe US occupation, there is no soil for widespread militarist ideas in the society; 3)having no strategic hinterlands, a densely populated Japan with nuclear plants cannotengage in any full-scale war in this missile era without incurring disasters on itself.Whether these arguments are wholly sound or not, such an article is certainly helpfulfor developing a better understanding of Japan or even reducing certain suspicionsabout the country. Likewise, Japanese and Korean scholars may also do things ofthis kind for promoting their mutual understanding. It is important that media should</p><p>10 Peoples Daily, Beijing, January 15, 2007.11 Peoples Daily, Beijing, January 15, 2007.</p><p>122 P. Guang</p></li><li><p>not demonize other countries and nations, as such propaganda can only mislead thepeople.</p><p>The second principle is to expand our common ground while putting aside thedifferences. It should be recognized that China, Japan, and South Korea havedifferent views regarding certain specific interests and issues. Yet, in comparisonwith our common interests, the differences are obviously of a lower order. So long aswe take strategic, long-term and historically responsible attitudes, and have adequatesincerity and confidence in conducting dialogue, those problems among the threecountries can always be resolved by peaceful and appropriate means. On someknotty issues like the disputes over islands and maritime resources, we may shelvethe problem in case no mutually satisfactory solution can be found for the moment.Common development may be undertaken while negotiations continue, so thatsubstantial steps along peaceful lines of conduct will turn the seas among us into tiesof peace, friendship and cooperation. In the same way, in case of trade disputes thatare sometimes unavoidable among the three countries, mutually acceptable andbeneficial solutions should always be sought patiently and actively, as antagonismcan only lead to mutual losses. In the SinoJapanese trade dispute in 2001, theagricultural sector of China got hurt, while Japanese automobile and other sectorsalso sustained losses. Later on, by negotiations on the trade frictions, both sidescame to final terms, which avoided further conflicts and losses, and have also set agood example to our future actions.</p><p>The third principle is to seek reciprocity and winwin. The Chinese, Japanese andSouth Korean economies are highly complementary, which provides great potentialsof cooperation. Most businessmen and consumers see opportunities and benefitsrather than threats in the fast developing economic cooperation among us. Forexample, both Japanese and South Korean business communities are showing astrong interest in investing in the fast expanding Chinese economy. As revealed byJapan Economic News surveys, over 70% of Japanese manufacturers are attemptingto relocate their production lines to overseas, and half of them regard China as adestination.12 Such moves are in the long run conducive to both Japanese andKorean business operations, and conducive to the Chinese economy as well. To besure, alongside the reciprocity, certain negative consequences may also be inevitablein the short run, such as job losses and industrial restructuring in the wake of theshifting. But it is unfair and short-sighted to put the blame on China. As a matter offact, in facilitating their industrial relocations, China helps Japanese and Koreanfirms to reduce their costs, to enhance their competitiveness, to expand their markets,and to get throu...</p></li></ul>