Volume 8, Number 4, January 2007
Full Issue (PDF, 201 pages, 1.2 MB)
Regional Overview: Bangs, Blinks, and Ballots (PDF, 21 pages, 215 KB) by Ralph A. Cossa, Pacific Forum CSIS, and Brad Glosserman, Pacific Forum CSIS
The quarter started with a bang, literally, as North Korea made good on its threat to test a nuclear weapon, resulting in a strongly worded (but not strongly enforceable) UNSCR 1718 imposing sanctions. To the surprise of some, Pyongyang agreed to return to the Six-Party Talks this quarter; to the surprise of virtually no one, the talks went nowhere. The most anticipated multilateral event of the quarter, the second East Asia Summit, was postponed, but the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting did take place on schedule, along with a side meeting between President Bush and the “ASEAN Seven.” Democracy took another hit, this time via a military coup in Fiji, even as the road back to democracy in Thailand is proving longer than promised. The Asia Pacific economic outlook remains good, with the region continuing to set the pace for the rest of the world. The political outlook is not as sunny.
U.S.-Japan Relations: Abe Shows the Right Stuff (PDF, 10 pages, 119 KB) by Michael J. Green, CSIS, and Shinjiro Koizumi, CSIS
Pyongyang added another provocation with the Oct. 9 nuclear test. The prospect of another nuclear weapons state in Japan’s neighborhood was bad news, but the test also created an opportunity for Japan and its neighbors to forge a consensus on an approach to this new regional security challenge. While the nuclear test posed a significant threat to Tokyo and prompted discussions of nuclearization as a means to strengthen Japan’s deterrence, it also led the U.S. to reaffirm its commitment to defend Japan under the nuclear umbrella. Prime Minister Abe faced a series of security and diplomatic challenges that allowed him to show that he has the “right stuff” to be prime minister, despite his relative youth and inexperience. But a sudden sag in popularity and questions about his commitment to economic reform will be areas to watch in the new year.
U.S.-China Relations: Dialogue Boosts Ties, Even Without Results (PDF, 10 pages, 122 KB) by Bonnie S. Glaser, CSIS/Pacific Forum CSIS
A gaggle of Cabinet secretaries, led by Treasury Secretary Paulson, traveled to Beijing to launch the Strategic Economic Dialogue. No breakthroughs were achieved, but both sides seemed pleased with the outcome. Pyongyang tested a nuclear device in early October and there was no tangible achievement in the resumption of Six-Party Talks, even though intensive consultations between Washington and Beijing boosted bilateral ties. Midterm elections that resulted in the Democratic Party seizure of control over both the House and Senate generated some concern in China about increased pressure on trade and human rights. On balance, however, Beijing remained confident that China-U.S. relations would remain on a positive track. Mil-to-mil ties continued apace with a three-day U.S. ship visit to Zhanjiang, joint military exercises between the U.S. Navy and Marines and their Chinese counterparts, and a visit to China by the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander.
U.S.-Korea Relations: North Korea Tests a Nuke and Returns to the Six-Party Talks (PDF, 12 pages, 138 KB) by Donald G. Gross, The Atlantic Council of the United States
North Korea made good on its threat to conduct a nuclear test on Oct. 9. The test generated political shock waves and led to sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council. Under tremendous pressure from the international community and China, in particular, North Korea announced Oct. 31 that it would return to the Six-Party Talks. When the talks reconvened in Beijing on Dec. 18, little progress was made other than reaffirming the Sept. 19, 2005 Joint Statement. The U.S. and South Korea agreed in late October to transfer wartime operational control of Korean troops to South Korea sometime between 2009 and 2012. In ongoing negotiations on an FTA, the U.S. and ROK ran into difficulty on issues including autos, pharmaceuticals, antidumping measures, and beef.
U.S.-Russia Relations: Trade, Nukes, and Energy (PDF, 7 pages, 98 KB) by Joseph Ferguson, National Council for Eurasian and East European Research
In a relatively quiet quarter for U.S.-Russia relations, the issues topping the bilateral agenda were trade, nuclear proliferation, and energy security. That nuclear proliferation and energy security were at the top of the list should come as no surprise. The big news was the announcement that the U.S. government had agreed in principle to Russia’s long-awaited accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin met twice during the quarter, a few days apart in Moscow and Hanoi. At their meetings the discussions centered on WTO, Iran, and North Korea. A surprise announcement by the Japanese foreign minister concerning the disputed “northern territories” caused a few ruffles in both Moscow and Tokyo, but the Japanese-Russian relationship returned again to its stagnant state by the end of the quarter.
U.S.-Southeast Asia Relations: U.S. Reaches Out at APEC (PDF, 10 pages, 121 KB) by Sheldon W. Simon, Arizona State University
In his November visit to Southeast Asia and the Hanoi Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting, President Bush raised the prospect of an Asia-Pacific free trade area, discussed implementation of the ASEAN-U.S. Enhanced Partnership, praised Indonesia for the success of the peace process in Aceh, and assured Vietnamese officials that permanent normal trade relations would be approved by the U.S. Congress by year’s end. (It was.) In the Philippines, the Visiting Forces Agreement survived a severe test when a U.S. Marine was convicted of rape and sentenced to 40 years in a Philippine prison. Due to the custodial issue of the Marine, for a time, the February 2007 Balikatan exercise was canceled. While pressing the Thai leadership to restore democracy, Washington announced plans to hold the annual multinational 2007 Cobra Gold military exercise.
China-Southeast Asia Relations: Summitry at Home and Abroad (PDF, 12 pages, 141 KB) by Robert Sutter, Georgetown University, and Chin-Hao Huang, CSIS
Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao engaged their Southeast Asian counterparts during a meeting in China celebrating 15 years of China-ASEAN ties, and during the APEC leaders gathering in Hanoi. The implications of China’s rising prominence for the changing regional order were reviewed in detail during meetings of China experts and international specialists, and in assessments by prominent scholars that went beyond headline-driven media accounts. The National People’s Congress session in March may provide further clarification of what the Hu administration’s emphasis on a “harmonious” world order actually means for Southeast Asia. Chinese trade and foreign investment figures issued in January should provide concrete markers of China’s increasing economic role in the region.
China-Taiwan Relations: Continuing to Inch Forward (PDF, 8 pages, 113 KB) by David G. Brown, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
As the year ends, cross-Strait tensions remain remarkably low. This is despite President Chen’s efforts to promote his nationalist agenda in ways that could threaten cross-Strait stability. However, as Chen is a seriously wounded lame duck, his initiatives are often just rhetorical flourishes. Despite a restrictive approach to cross-Strait economic ties, his administration approved long-pending proposals for high-tech investments in China. Beijing continues to pursue President Hu’s policy of outreach to Taiwan. Discreet talks between designated associations have reportedly neared agreement on arrangements for Chinese tourism to Taiwan. Progress was made toward breaking the deadlock over arms procurement, with hope that initial appropriations may be approved by the Legislative Yuan early in the new year.
North Korea-South Korea Relations: A Nuclear Rubicon or No Change? (PDF, 21 pages, 211 KB) by Aidan Foster-Carter, Leeds University, UK
DPRK’s Oct. 9 test of a small nuclear device sent the region, the world, and especially Pyongyang’s five interlocutors in the then-stalled Six-Party Talks – the U.S., China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia – scurrying first to condemn, unanimously, and then to try to devise appropriate countermeasures. Unanimity fast evaporated as familiar policy splits persisted. To the surprise of some, but in fact quite typically, Kim Jong-il deigned to return to the Six-Party Talks. President Roh Moo-hyun, a lame duck already in his final year of office, is under pressure to rethink the Sunshine Policy of engagement with the North that has guided Seoul’s nordpolitik since 1998. Yet all signs are that at least for this year Seoul will stick to Sunshine regardless.
China-Korea Relations: Political Fallout from North Korea’s Nuclear Test (PDF, 10 pages, 126 KB) by Scott Snyder, The Asia Foundation/Pacific Forum CSIS
Chinese responses to North Korea’s test included public condemnation of the “brazen” act, a decision to back a stronger-than-expected UNSC resolution, speculation about how China might use its leverage to rein in North Korea, and reestablishment of direct talks with Kim Jong-il and reestablishment of dialogue through Six-Party Talks. The test also stimulated high-level meetings between China and South Korea. Presidents Roh and Hu met during a Beijing summit one week after the test. UN Secretary General-elect Ban swung by Beijing on his way to New York. Despite a steady increase in Chinese-South Korean trade, investment, and tourism, the tone of China’s relations with South Korea has gradually become more sober due to sensitivities in Seoul regarding China’s Northeast Asian history project and rising anxieties about South Korea’s trade imbalance with China.
Japan-China Relations: Ice Breaks at the Summit (PDF, 15 pages, 171 KB) by James J. Przystup, Institute for National Strategic Studies, NDU
The long search for a Japan-China Summit was realized Oct. 8, when Japan’s new Prime Minister Abe Shinzo arrived in Beijing and met China’s President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Abe and Hu agreed to build a “strategic, reciprocal relationship” aimed at enhancing cooperation and advancing a wide range of mutual interests. Both leaders agreed to address the difficult issues of history and the East China Sea, setting up expert panels to explore ways to resolve them. On the Yasukuni issue, Abe relied on strategic ambiguity, which the Chinese leadership appeared to tolerate, if not accept, in the interest of moving relations ahead. The joint history panel met in Tokyo at the end of December and the East China Sea experts meeting was scheduled for early in the new year. After several years of tough going, the road ahead appears smoother and more promising.
Japan-Korea Relations: Abe’s Ascension (PDF, 12 pages, 123 KB) by David C. Kang, Dartmouth College, and Ji-Young Lee Georgetown University
With Abe Shinzo becoming prime minister of Japan in late September, Japan-Korea relations entered a new period. Both Koreas waited to see whether Abe would take a new course toward the peninsula. His initial act of visiting South Korea and China won cautious praise from South Koreans, although the real test of his leadership and where he plans to take Japan remain to be seen. Although cooperation and competition in Japan-South Korea economic relations continued, the good news was the revived discussion about trilateral cooperation among China, South Korea, and Japan to integrate the three economies. On the sidelines of the ASEAN meetings in the Philippines, Japan, China, and the ROK agreed to conclude a trilateral investment agreement. How Japan and the two Koreas manage their relations could have a major impact on stability in the region.
China-Russia Relations: What Follows China’s “Russia Year”? (PDF, 9 pages, 124 KB) by Yu Bin, Wittenberg University
By any standard, the last quarter of 2006 was extraordinary for Moscow and Beijing: the first “Russia Year” in China was winding down, trade rose nearly 20 percent to $36 billion, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) strengthened, and their strategic interaction deepened. The rest of the world was in a state of chaos and crisis: North Korea tested nukes; the Six-Party Talks went nowhere; the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Pyongyang and Tehran; Saddam’s execution has not brought stability, let alone peace, to the Middle East. Meanwhile, the world’s sole superpower is seen as weakened by challenges from both outside (Iraq) and inside (midterm elections). Ironically, other major powers, including Russia and China, found themselves both unable and unwilling to manage the mess.
India-East Asia and U.S.-India Relations: Movin’ On Up (PDF, 21 pages, 203 KB) by Satu P. Limaye, Institute for Defense Analyses
A steady if un-dramatic consolidation of ties has occurred between India and its neighbors to the east. India joined or has observer status in regional organizations such as the East Asia Summit and the SCO. Important state exchanges occurred such as the visits of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (2005) and President Hu Jintao (2006) to India. Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi’s 2005 visit resulted in “strategic orientation” to the India-Japan “Global Partnership.” India’s improved relations with the U.S., capped by the U.S.-Indian civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, also provided a positive basis to engage key Asian countries and organizations. Increasingly friendly U.S.-India ties allowed for defense cooperation, defense acquisitions, and cooperation in the area of space and nonnuclear energy.
About the Contributors (PDF, 5 pages, 65 KB)