|Map of Asia|
CIAO DATE: 02/05
Volume 6, Number 4, January 2005
Regional Overview: Tsunami Brings Us Together; Provides Perspective (PDF, 22 pages, 312.1 KB) by Ralph A. Cossa and Jane Skanderup
2004 ended on a tragic note, as the death toll from the Dec. 26 tsunami approached the 150,000 mark and continued to climb. Humanitarian assistance reached unprecedented proportions and the tsunami made many of the region's man-made challenges fade into the background, even as some argued the relief effort provided the U.S. with an opportunity to improve its image in Asia after a rough first four years. In retrospect, 2004 had its ups and downs for Washington, with the derailing of Six-Party Talks and a slight cooling of China-U.S. relations being the biggest disappointments. On the positive side, it was a banner year for democracy in Asia; the system worked, time and time again, even if the results were not always predictable. Multilateral cooperation was also on the rise and economic forecasts, issued before the tsunami struck, were generally positive and were not expected to be too negatively affected by the tragedy.
U.S.-Japan Relations: Planning Ahead (PDF, 11 pages, 223.4 KB) by Brad Glosserman
The final quarter of 2004 was uneventful, at least as far as U.S.-Japan relations were concerned. This tranquility is revealing of the maturity and solidity of the relationship and permits the two governments to focus on future planning rather than alliance management. To their credit, they are doing just that. Highlights include a public discussion of the meaning of the "Far East" clause in the U.S.-Japan security treaty which fits into a broader national security debate in Japan, Japan's hosting of a Proliferation Security Initiative exercise, and approval of the National Defense Program Guidelines, which outline Japan's future security posture. The quarter closed with the terrible earthquake in Indonesia and the tsunami it created; Prime Minister Koizumi was quick to respond, both to deploy Japan's formidable assets to help combat the devastation, and to demonstrate his country's ability to play a vital regional and international role.
U.S.-China Relations: Slips of the Tongue and Parables (PDF, 11 pages, 218.8 KB) by Bonnie S. Glaser
The quarter opened with a visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell to Beijing, as well as Seoul and Tokyo, that did little to jumpstart the stagnant Six-Party Talks or revive the dormant dialogue between Taiwan and China. Controversy erupted over statements Powell made to the media that endorsed peaceful reunification of the two sides of the Strait and declared that Taiwan does not enjoy sovereignty. Hu Jintao and George W. Bush talked in October and November, and then met on the sidelines of the 12th APEC summit in Chile. Although cooperation predominated between Washington and Beijing, differences persisted on numerous issues, including China's proliferation activities, U.S. refusal to return to China exonerated Uighurs held in Guantanamo Bay, the EU arms embargo on China, Iran's nuclear programs, China's human rights practices, China's currency, and the mushrooming bilateral trade deficit.
U.S.-Korea Relations: South Korea Confronts U.S. Hardliners on North Korea Policy (PDF, 10 pages, 208.6 KB) by Donald G. Gross
South Korea embarked on an aggressive diplomatic campaign to prevent neo-conservative hardliners in the Bush administration from obtaining a dominant role in U.S. policymaking toward the DPRK. In speeches, President Roh asserted the "leading role" of South Korea in the Six-Party Talks and ruled out military options, other "forceful actions," and rejected regime change as policy approaches for dealing with Pyongyang. Meeting Roh on the sidelines of the APEC summit, President Bush reiterated the U.S. policy of promoting a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue. The Six-Party Talks remained at an impasse, as North Korea protested a naval exercise of the Proliferation Security Initiative and resisted a new negotiating round until seeing the shape of U.S. policy after the presidential election. U.S., ROK, and Chinese officials increasingly focused on continuing the negotiations in early 2005.
U.S.-Russia Relations: Elections Highlight Deepening Divide (PDF, 6 pages, 184.2 KB) by Joseph Ferguson
A presidential election negatively influenced U.S.-Russia relations — except that it was not the election in the United States, but the one in the Ukraine. Press reports in the U.S. and Russia billed the Ukrainian presidential election as a struggle between Moscow and Washington for the soul of that country. Although this is far from the truth, it nevertheless put a crimp in the strained relationship between the U.S. and Russia. The ongoing drama behind the arrest of the leadership of the Russian oil giant Yukos and the breakup of that company shaped Western perceptions of how Russia's democratic experiment is progressing. The U.S. must decide whether it wants to maintain the strategic partnership with Moscow in its current form or opt to become constructive critics of Vladimir Putin and the "New Russia." This decision will have a profound impact on the international system in East Asia, where China looms as a giant both physically and in the minds of people of all nations.
U.S.-Southeast Asian Relations: Elections, Unrest, and ASEAN Controversies (PDF, 11 pages, 214.9 KB) by Sheldon W. Simon
Following President Bush's reelection, Southeast Asian leaders warned that the U.S. war on terror and its Middle East policy must be altered to demonstrate that the U.S. is not attacking Islam. While Washington welcomed S.B. Yudhoyono's election as president of Indonesia as a vibrant demonstration of democracy and applauded his cooperation in fighting terrorism, the continued U.S. arms embargo is leading Jakarta to seek military equipment from Russia, Europe, and possibly China. Washington has also expressed concern over southern Thai Muslim deaths at the hands of the military. Indonesia and Malaysia are stepping up maritime security cooperation, while the U.S. offers technical assistance. Meanwhile, ASEAN struggles with Burma's abysmal human rights record and looks forward to an East Asian summit in 2005, a gathering that does not include the U.S. The U.S. is taking a leading role in coordinating relief efforts in the aftermath of the horrific tsunami, providing President Bush an opportunity to improve the U.S. image in Asia generally and in Muslim Indonesia specifically. By showing compassion with large-scale humanitarian assistance, the U.S. may be able to alter the dominant popular image in Southeast Asia that it is only concerned with counterterrorism.
China-Southeast Asia Relations: Thinking Globally, Acting Regionally (PDF, 13 pages, 239.2 KB) by Ronald Montaperto
During the last quarter of 2004, Beijing leveraged previous gains to use both the October Asia-Europe Meeting and the November Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting as platforms to enunciate the economic and strategic priorities now defining Chinese external policies. At these events, Beijing spoke from a global perspective. Beijing embedded its global stance within the context of Southeast Asian concerns at the 10th ASEAN Summit in Laos and the subsequent "plus Three" and "plus One" meetings. China also mixed its multilateral diplomacy with bilateral efforts to improve and solidify ties with Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. With the possible exception of Vietnam, all of these activities were crowned by success. Increasingly, the rhythms of Southeast Asian political and economic life are being defined by Beijing as nations place a new emphasis on analyzing, assessing, and factoring potential Chinese reactions into their foreign policy initiatives, providing Beijing with unprecedented influence and clout.
China-Taiwan Relations: Campaign Fallout (PDF, 8 pages, 168 KB) by David G. Brown
During the Legislative Yuan election campaign, President Chen used Taiwanese identity issues to mobilize supporters and talked fervently about giving Taiwan a new constitution in his second term, which confirmed Beijing's distrust and criticism of Chen. The Bush administration notched up public criticism, reflecting growing U.S. frustration with and lack of trust in Chen. Chen's October proposals on cross-Strait dialogue and charter flights were dismissed by Beijing because they did not address the "one China" issue. The December election unexpectedly renewed the pan-blue majority in the Legislative Yuan to Beijing and Washington's relief. Nevertheless, a week later, Beijing announced it would adopt an "Anti-Secession Law." While 2005 could be an opportunity for progress on cross-Strait relations, it remains to be seen whether Beijing and Taipei will by flexible on the "three links," the one area were some progress may be possible.
North Korea-South Korea Relations: Boycott or Business? (PDF, 13 pages, 242.1 KB) by Aidan Foster-Carter
In a cliché beloved of British soccer commentators, inter-Korean relations in 2004 were a game of two halves. Until mid-year all seemed to be going well, including unprecedented military talks to ease border tensions. But July saw a U-turn. Angry on several fronts, North Korea pulled out of most of its hitherto regular talks with the South. By early 2005 it had not relented, and showed no sign of doing so. The stasis in inter-Korean ties partly reflects the fact that North Korea is in no mood to talk seriously to anyone about anything. But there are also specific aspects to this always distinctive relationship between two halves of a divided land. One is the refugee issue: a salutary reminder that there is more to inter-Korean ties than merely what the two governments cook up between them, or fail to. The other is the one field of cooperation that Pyongyang is still keen on, doubtless because there is money in it. So maybe an otherwise bleak New Year is not wholly without hope after all.
China-Korea Relations: Waiting Game (PDF, 8 pages, 197.6 KB) by Scott Snyder
The second half of the year brought no opportunity for a fourth round of Six-Party Talks. ROK President Roh Moo-hyun met with PRC President Hu Jintao in Santiago in November and with Premier Wen Jiabao in Ventiane in December to press for six-party diplomacy with North Korea, but to no avail. Tensions surrounding the refugee issue have escalated with the passage of the U.S. North Korean Human Rights Act, a near doubling of refugee arrivals in South Korea, and more aggressive Chinese efforts to intimidate and deter third-party brokers who assist North Korean refugees. The trade relationship between China and South Korea is becoming increasingly complex, as China poses greater competition for South Korean products in third-country markets and was one of nine parties pressing to open South Korea's rice market as required by WTO regulations. Nonetheless, South Korean exports to China remain the primary reason the South Korean economy did not experience a recession in the second half of 2004.
Japan-China Relations: A Volatile Mix: Natural Gas, a Submarine, a Shrine, and a Visa (PDF, 14 pages, 241.4 KB) by James J. Przystup
The dispute over exploration of natural gas fields in the East China Sea continued to simmer. Japanese patrol aircraft tracked a Chinese nuclear submarine traveling submerged through Japanese territorial waters. Beijing's apology paved the way for summit-level talks between Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi and China's President Hu Jintao and later Premier Wen Jiabao. In Japan, reaction centered on graduating China from Japan's ODA program. Tokyo issued Japan's new National Defense Program Guidelines, which highlighted China's military modernization and increasing naval activities, concerns that Beijing found groundless. Finally, Japan approved a visa for Taiwan's former President Lee Teng-hui, in Beijing's eyes a "splittist" and advocate of Taiwanese independence. Yet economic relations continued to expand, giving rise to a phenomenon known in Japan as "cold politics, hot economics."
Japan-Korea Relations: Improving and Maturing, but Slowly (PDF, 10 pages, 210.3 KB) by David C. Kang
Japan's relations with the DPRK continue to be held hostage by the abductions issue. The Japan-ROK relationship continues to mature. President Roh and Prime Minister Koizumi have a better working relationship than any previous pair of leaders, and a number of current issues are being handled as a normal aspect of a working relationship, not as special matters. Japan and South Korea engaged in another summit, furthered economic exchanges, and saw cultural relations evolve, if not exactly improve. South Korea and Japan also cooperated on economic issues with the rest of Asia. On matters other than North Korea, relations between South Korea and Japan are improving across a range of issues. Japan's small steps toward a new, more muscular foreign policy were less destabilizing than they might have been a decade ago; South Korea does not seem overly concerned, although North Korea predictably overreacted.
China-Russia Relations: End of History? What's Next? (PDF, 11 pages, 215.7 KB) by Yu Bin
More than 300 years of territorial/border disputes between Russia and China came to an end in the fourth quarter. It also saw Russian President Putin's third official visit to China, which was accompanied by record bilateral trade ($20 billion in 2004) and fresh momentum in mil-mil relations. But, on Dec. 31, Russia's prime minister approved a draft resolution submitted by the Russian Industry and Energy Ministry to build an oil pipeline from Taishet in East Siberia to the Perevoznaya Bay in the Pacific Primorsk region, without a word about China nor a branch to Daqing. While the "history" of rivalries over territories and borders is over for Russia and China, a new round that balances geoeconomics and geostrategics between Moscow and Beijing is just unfolding in northeast, central, and south Asia as well as across various issue areas.
Occasional Analysis: India-East Asia: 2004: A Year of Living Actively (PDF, 17 pages, 281.1 KB) by Satu P. Limay
Three broad features characterized India-East Asia relations in 2004. First, India-Pakistan relations improved, providing India the energies and resources to pay attention to its eastern neighbors. Second, India's economy remained relatively robust, giving India the confidence to pitch for cooperation and garnering interest from East Asian countries. Finally, a change of government in India has not derailed what now appears to be an institutionalized Indian "look east" policy. Although China remained at the forefront of India's major Asian relationships, there will be some tough slogging in the "normalization" process. Japan-India relations also showed greater activity in 2004 but they are still wary, primarily because of the nuclear issue. A new development in 2004 was the India-ROK relationship, which is moving forward after President Roh's October visit. The summit relationship with ASEAN affords India an opportunity to build bilateral ties with a number of Southeast Asian countries.