CIAO DATE: 06/07
Volume 9, Number 1, April 2007
Full Issue (PDF, 169 pages, 1.2 MB)
Regional Overview: Renewed Hope in the Year of the Golden Pig (PDF, 18 pages, 1.1 MB) by Ralph A. Cossa, Pacific Forum CSIS, and Brad Glosserman, Pacific Forum CSIS
The Year of the Golden Pig has gotten off to an auspicious beginning. The Six-Party Talks, seemingly left for dead at the end of last quarter, were miraculously revived, resulting in an “action for action” game plan for the phased implementation of the September 2005 joint denuclearization agreement. Neither weather nor terrorism concerns prevented the second East Asia Summit from taking place as rescheduled, with the U.S. nowhere to be found. ASEAN leaders took a step forward in examining their first formal Charter while agreeing with their Plus Three partners (China, Japan, and South Korea, finally once again on speaking terms) to promote greater regional integration. Tokyo and Canberra moved to strengthen bilateral security cooperation, while the second “Armitage-Nye Report” was released, laying out a bipartisan vision for “getting Asia right.”
U.S.-Japan Relations: An Unexpected Rough Patch (PDF, 10 pages, 197 KB) by Michael J. Green, CSIS, and Shinjiro Koizumi, CSIS
The first quarter turned out to be a rough patch not only for President Bush and Prime Minister Abe domestically, but also for the U.S.-Japan alliance. In the U.S., the shock came from comments made by Abe and other political leaders in response to U.S. Congressional hearings regarding “comfort women” (women put into brothels for the Japanese army during World War II). In Japan, the shock came from the sudden shift in U.S. policy toward North Korea with the Feb. 13 Six-Party Talks agreement. For the first time since the 1995 Okinawa rape incident, editorials in both countries raised questions of trust in the other. Despite this Sturm und Drang in the press and the legislatures, this quarter also saw a marked increase in high-level attention to Japan from the Bush administration. Meanwhile, Japan moved ahead with steps to strengthen its security policy institutions, passing legislation that elevates the Defense Agency to a ministry and introducing new legislation to establish a U.S.-style National Security Council.
U.S.-China Relations: Old and New Challenges: ASAT Test, Taiwan, and Trade (PDF, 14 pages, 122 KB) by Bonnie S. Glaser, CSIS/Pacific Forum CSIS
China’s anti-satellite test against a defunct Chinese weather satellite on Jan. 11 prompted concern and criticism from around the world. A decision to allow Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian to make stopovers in the U.S. and notification to Congress of a possible arms sale to Taiwan led to Chinese protests. A Private Property Law and Corporate Tax Law were passed at the National People’s Congress. U.S. officials credited China with making positive contributions toward strengthening the international system, notably in the Six-Party Talks, but urged China to do more. In a possible signal of toughening U.S. trade policy, the Commerce Department slapped duties on imports of coated paper, reversing a decades-old policy of not applying duties to subsidized goods from non-market economies. Sino-U.S. military ties advanced with reciprocal visits by the deputy chief of General Staff of the PLA, and the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
U.S.-Korea Relations: Unexpected Progress on All Fronts (PDF, 12 pages, 158 KB) by Donald G. Gross, The Atlantic Council of the United States
North Korea promised to shut down and seal its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon this quarter in a deal that could lead to the implementation of the Six-Party Talks September 2005 Joint Statement. In return, the Bush administration agreed to transfer back to North Korea its $25 million in funds that were frozen since the fall of 2005 in a Macau bank for alleged laundering of U.S. money. Despite the political will on both sides, “technical issues” involving financial regulations prevented the funds from being transferred as scheduled, which contributed to the early adjournment of the sixth round of the nuclear talks. At quarter’s end, U.S. diplomats expected a quick resolution to the banking issues. The U.S. reached an historic free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea, the largest since NAFTA and the first with a major Asian nation. The U.S. and South Korea also made progress on the relocation of U.S. bases and dissolution of the Joint Forces Command by 2012.
U.S.-Russia Relations: Coming Full Circle (PDF, 8 pages, 147 KB) by Joseph Ferguson, National Council for Eurasian and East European Research
The opening of 2007 witnessed perhaps the nadir in bilateral relations between Moscow and Washington since the establishment of the “strategic partnership” in the war on terror in late 2001. In a highly publicized speech in Munich in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a broadside against U.S. foreign policy, suggesting that the U.S. seemed to view force as the only policy option at its disposal. If relations did not return to the dark days of the Cold War, then the series of events that transpired this quarter did resemble a return to the tumultuous days of the late 1990s. But, in an interesting twist, by late March it appeared that Moscow and Washington had agreed on the need to foil Iran’s bid to march down the road to uranium enrichment. Thus the quarter concluded on a favorable note, hinting that – at least temporarily – the bilateral relationship had regained sounder footing.
U.S.-Southeast Asia Relations: Military Support and Political Concerns (PDF, 10 pages, 106 KB) by Sheldon W. Simon, Arizona State University
U.S. military support for Philippine counterterrorism forces has led to significant gains against Abu Sayyaf, though Philippine complaints about the Visiting Forces Agreement continue in the aftermath of the rape conviction of a U.S. marine. Manila passed long-awaited anti-terrorism legislation to Washington’s applause. The U.S. sponsored UNSC resolution condemning Burma’s human rights violations was defeated by joint Chinese-Russian vetoes, though a majority of the UNSC members supported the resolution. Free Trade Agreement negotiations with Malaysia have run up against significant labor and service industry obstacles, while former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad convened a private tribunal to condemn the Bush administration’s actions in Iraq. Meanwhile, Southeast Asia’s importance for U.S. security was emphasized by a visit from Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. naval visits to Vietnam and Cambodia.
China-Southeast Asia Relations: Cebu Meetings, UN Veto on Myanmar (PDF, 10 pages, 120 KB) by Robert Sutter, Georgetown University, and Chin-Hao Huang, CSIS
The highlight of this quarter’s activities in China-Southeast Asia relations was the series of meetings and events surrounding the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to Cebu, Philippines Jan. 13-16. Beijing signed an important accord to open key service sectors that would come into effect in July 2007. The deal would give Southeast Asian businesses an edge, help ASEAN members cut their looming trade deficits with China, and allay fears of the negative impacts of China’s economic boom. China’s veto of a U.S.-backed UN Security Council draft resolution on Myanmar and Chinese military advances, including a controversial anti-satellite test, occasioned little apparent negative reaction among Southeast Asian governments.
China-Taiwan Relations: To Be Concerned or Not? (PDF, 10 pages, 123 KB) by David G. Brown, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Despite basic stability in cross-Strait relations, Beijing has been concerned that Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian would take steps to realize his dream of a new Taiwan constitution. Washington has been more impressed by domestic constraints that make constitutional reform affecting Taiwan’s sovereignty all but impossible. Chen has not abandoned his dreams, but he has focused on heightening the public’s sense of Taiwan’s separate identity – steps that appeal to the DPP’s core supporters and create realities his successor will have difficulty reversing. Treatment of Taiwan at the PRC’s National People’s Congress reflected the continuity of President Hu Jintao’s approach to Taiwan. Talks on Chinese tourism to Taiwan and on expanding cross-Strait charter flights continued but no agreements were announced. China’s anti-satellite test and another major increase in its defense budget are sources of concern in Taipei, but the Legislative Yuan has not yet passed arms procurement legislation.
North Korea-South Korea Relations: Sunshine Regardless? (PDF, 14 pages, 125 KB) by Aidan Foster-Carter, Leeds University, UK
When the new year began, and well into February, most official contacts remained suspended in the wake of last year’s twin shocks: the DPRK’s missile launches in July, followed by its nuclear test in October. Yet even then there were hopes of an early thaw, amid visibly energetic efforts to breathe life into the Six-Party Talks after their resumed session in December ended in failure. On Feb. 13, after appearing close to collapse over North Korea’s large energy demands, this on-off forum finally produced an agreement that – if imperfect – nonetheless looked more comprehensive and detailed than many observers had dared to hope after more than three years of getting nowhere much. The ROK moved swiftly to reinstate the formal channels of dialogue suspended for the past half-year, starting with ministerial talks held in Pyongyang Feb. 27 to March 2.
China-Korea Relations: A Dark Turn in Political Relations (PDF, 10 pages, 154 KB) by Scott Snyder, The Asia Foundation/Pacific Forum CSIS
China played a key role in resurrecting the Six-Party Talks with a Feb. 13 agreement in which North Korea would shut down and disable its reactors in exchange for 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil or its equivalent. The deal had stalled by the end of the quarter over the return of North Korean funds frozen at the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia. This glitch underscored the extent of North Korea’s financial and political isolation from China as well as the distance between Beijing and Pyongyang. During bilateral working group meetings with the U.S., DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan publicly vented frustrations about China, even while Kim Jong-il maintained the facade of Sino-DPRK friendship through a rare visit to the PRC Embassy in Pyongyang. China-South Korean coordination in the nuclear talks and three-way dialogue with Japan on the sidelines of the ASEAN Plus Three Meetings continued to develop. South Korea proposed to institutionalize tripartite consultations among the three foreign ministers. China-ROK trade and investment grew to new highs amid a mounting list of irritations and obstacles.
Japan-China Relations: New Year, Old Problems, Hope for Wen (PDF, 16 pages, 116 KB) by James J. Przystup, Institute for National Strategic Studies, NDU
Japanese and Chinese political leaders and diplomats, focusing on the steps necessary to build a strategic mutually beneficial relationship, worked throughout the quarter to lay the groundwork for a successful April visit to Japan by Premier Wen Jiabao. Dialogue, cooperation, and peaceful resolution were omnipresent bywords. But, in fact, little progress was made in addressing longstanding issues related to the East China Sea, North Korea, security, and China’s Jan. 11 anti-satellite (ASAT) test – all hopefully deferred for resolution to the Wen visit. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and the Liberal Democratic Party were caught up in a debate over history, comfort women, and Nanjing. Interestingly, Beijing’s response was low key, suggesting a commitment on the part of China’s leadership to progress with Japan.
Japan-Korea Relations: The Honeymoon’s Over (PDF, 12 pages, 173 KB) by David C. Kang, Dartmouth College, and Ji-Young Lee, Georgetown University
The first quarter saw new developments in the Japan-Korea relationship, while some very old issues resurfaced. Prime Minister Abe’s honeymoon appears to be over at home and abroad, while South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is a lame duck with the December 2007 presidential election approaching. The Six-Party Talks experienced progress as a result of U.S. and DPRK initiatives. Japan’s insistence on making the abductees issue central to its relations with North Korea threatened to isolate Tokyo as the talks continued. Abe heightened regional suspicions about Japan’s intentions when he seemed to cast doubt on both the Japanese government’s role in the World War II “comfort women” brothels and its 1993 apology, by questioning whether coercion was used and whether the military and government were directly involved. Despite political tensions, economic relations between South Korea and Japan continued their slow integration, and at the working levels, the two governments continued to find new areas for cooperation.
China-Russia Relations: Russia Say “No” to the West, and “Sort of” to China (PDF, 10 pages, 120 KB) by Yu Bin, Wittenberg University
The Russian-China strategic partnership moved to high gear toward the end of the quarter as Russia kicked off its “Year of China.” This coincided with President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Russia on March 26-28. Putin and Hu were facing global dynamics, dilemmas, and growing dangers. The two heads of state apparently had a serious and satisfactory meeting that focused on regional and world affairs. During the Moscow Summit, both the Chinese media and President Hu called for the two states to “upgrade” bilateral ties. There was, however, a rather paradoxical mist in the festival air. Moscow decided to expel a million non-Russian “illegal” vendors, about 90 percent of whom were ethnic Chinese. Meanwhile, the two Eurasian powers closely coordinated to soft-land the Korean nuclear crisis as well as to postpone and prepare for, the upcoming storm regarding Iran.
About the Contributors (PDF, 4 pages, 66 KB)