CIAO DATE: 12/07
Full Issue (PDF, 187 pages, 1.2 MB)
Regional Overview: Tests Postponed, Pending, Passed, and in Progress (PDF, 19 pages, 159 KB) by Ralph A. Cossa, Pacific Forum CSIS, and Brad Glosserman, Pacific Forum CSIS
The quarter opened with Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill proclaiming that we were “a few days away” from resolving the “technical issues” that halted the Korean Peninsula denuclearization process. Unfortunately, those few days did not take place until mid-June, postponing the long-awaited 60-day test of the Feb. 13 “action for action” deal until next quarter. Also pending is a test of the willingness of Southeast Asian nations to develop a meaningful Charter to commemorate ASEAN’s 40th birthday. The commitment of Thailand’s military leaders to restore democracy is also being tested, as is Beijing’s commitment to Hong Kong’s Basic Law on the 10th anniversary of reversion. Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and China’s PLA Deputy Chief of the General Staff Zhang Qinsheng passed their initial diplomatic tests this quarter with their first appearance at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Finally, East Asia’s economy, 10 years after the Asian financial crisis, appears to have nicely survived the test of time.
U.S.-Japan Relations: Steadying the Alliance and Bracing for Elections (PDF, 10 pages, 106 KB) by Michael J. Green, CSIS, and Shinjiro Koizumi, CSIS
After taking office, Abe Shinzo won kudos at home and abroad by mending relations with China and Korea. Few anticipated how many problems he would have on the domestic front. This quarter Abe once again used foreign policy – this time a successful summit with President George W. Bush and at the G-8 – to push his poll numbers up. The success of the summit was particularly reassuring in the context of growing U.S. Congressional criticism over Tokyo’s treatment of the “comfort women” issue. Abe’s overseas successes were soon offset by a scandal over the government’s mismanagement of pension accounts (that his government could ill afford) in the lead up to Upper House elections at the end of July. Abe will have to survive the Upper House election, if he is going to move forward with his greatest goal: constitutional revision. Still, Japanese voters appreciate toughness and perseverance, which Abe has in abundant supply, and that may save him yet.
U.S.-China Relations: Two Bilateral Dialogue Mechanisms Manage Friction (PDF, 16 pages, 128 KB) by Bonnie S. Glaser, CSIS/Pacific Forum CSIS
The second round of the Strategic Economic Dialogue produced a few agreements, but failed to make headway on the contentious issue of the value of China’s currency. U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called for Beijing to take immediate steps to reduce its $232 billion trade surplus with the U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Hu Jintao met on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. While both countries opposed Germany’s push for caps on greenhouse gas emissions, they continued to disagree on the degree of responsibility that emerging economies (that are among the top emitters of greenhouse gasses) should bear for reducing emissions. The failure of many Chinese products to meet safety standards became a new source of friction in the bilateral relationship. The fourth round of the Senior Dialogue provided an opportunity for high-level officials to review a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues.
U.S.-Korea Relations: Finally Progress on the Feb. 13 Joint Agreement (PDF, 8 pages, 88 KB) by Donald G. Gross, The Atlantic Council of the United States
Concerted efforts by the U.S., China, the ROK, and Russia overcame “technical problems” and led to the return of some $25 million in frozen funds to North Korea. U.S. Six-Party Talks chief envoy Christopher Hill traveled to Pyongyang to meet the DPRK foreign minister and his Six-Party Talks counterpart. Hill urged Pyongyang to accept IAEA inspectors, shut down its nuclear facilities, and attend the July round of talks. At quarter’s end, the U.S. and South Korea signed the free trade agreement (FTA). Despite the positive notes struck by U.S. and Korean trade officials, the Democratic leadership immediately denounced the FTA for adversely affecting U.S. auto makers and workers. Democrats are likely to block ratification of the FTA unless the Bush administration undertakes a strong lobbying effort in the coming months.
U.S.-Russia Relations: Death of the 1990s (PDF, 9 pages, 88 KB) by Joseph Ferguson, National Council for Eurasian and East European Research
The summit meeting at Kennebunkport, Maine between Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin was meant to smooth over the harsh rhetoric bandied about between Moscow and Washington over the past several months. The primary points of contention are similar to past controversies, namely defense issues in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, as well as political developments in Russia. But in fact, the summit may have signified something much more profound: the death of the 1990s bilateral relationship. In this case the death was both literal (with the passing of Boris Yeltsin) and figurative, given Russia’s economic and political resurgence and the reeling international image of the U.S. People can argue about whether the Cold War has reemerged or whether it ever went away. But one thing is clear: the 1990s have died. Russia has boldly declared that it will no longer stand by and watch the U.S. dictate the political agenda in Eastern Europe and Eurasia.
U.S.-Southeast Asia Relations: Better Military Relations and Human Rights Concerns (PDF, 14 pages, 120 KB) by Sheldon W. Simon, Arizona State University
Military-to-military ties with Indonesia were enhanced as plans were made for joint exercises. Jakarta also supported UNSC sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program despite negative domestic reactions. In the Philippines, the U.S. condemned the extra-judicial killings and the poor treatment of political opponents and journalists by a few in the Philippine security forces. U.S. economic aid to the southern Philippines was praised by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. U.S. forces continued training Philippine soldiers in the south to suppress Abu Sayyaf terrorists with some success. Thailand rejected U.S. aid in Bangkok’s counterinsurgency efforts in the Thai south. The U.S. reminded the Thai junta government about the importance of restoring democracy by year’s end. ASEAN leaders have urged the U.S. to strengthen its Southeast Asian ties and not hold them hostage to U.S. Burma policy. Vietnam President Triet’s June visit to the U.S. led to new economic deals, but was marred by complaints over human rights violations in Vietnam.
China-Southeast Asia Relations: China’s Activism Faces Persistent Challenges (PDF, 13 pages, 118 KB) by Robert Sutter, Georgetown University, and Chin-Hao Huang, CSIS
The major developments in this quarter included the Vietnamese president’s state visit to China in May and China’s military diplomacy at the Shangri-La Dialogue in early June. Assessments of China’s expansive engagement in Southeast Asia continue to show that while Beijing seeks to increase its influence in the region, it faces persistent challenges and limitations in translating its vision of a strategic partnership with Southeast Asia into a sustainable reality. The 17th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will be held this fall, although exact dates have yet to be confirmed. It is expected that this year’s session will see the inclusion of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s ideology of a “harmonious world” included in the party doctrine as an important element of Chinese foreign policy and the need to better align Beijing’s foreign policy with its domestic priorities.
China-Taiwan Relations: Dueling in the International Arena (PDF, 9 pages, 86 KB) by David G. Brown, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Beijing has remained concerned that President Chen Shui-bian will provoke some new cross-Strait confrontation. For his part, Chen has continued to try to create a stronger sense of Taiwan identity during his remaining months in office. These have lead Beijing to be even more implacable in insisting that Taiwan be viewed as part of China. Much of the confrontation has been in the international arena: over the Olympics, in the WHO and other international organizations, and for diplomatic recognition. There has been little movement on cross-Strait functional issues such as cross-Strait charter flights and finalizing arrangements for Chinese tourists coming to Taiwan. On the military front, Taipei has been somewhat more open about its development of offensive missiles, and the Legislative Yuan has finally appropriated funds to begin procurement of some elements of the arms package.
North Korea-South Korea Relations: On Track? (PDF, 18 pages, 145 KB) by Aidan Foster-Carter, Leeds University, UK
The second quarter saw growing momentum in inter-Korean relations. Having picked up speed after the Feb. 13 six-party accord, this was hardly derailed by the Banco Delta Asia affair and North Korea’s failure to close the Yongbyon facility. Only rice aid was withheld by Seoul, pending Pyongyang’s full fulfillment of the Feb. 13 agreement. Even this began to flow by quarter’s end, although Yongbyon remained open; by then South Korea, like the U.S. and other six-party participants, took the North’s cooperation with IAEA inspectors as a sufficient signal of sincere intent to play ball. The quarter thus saw renewal of a familiar range of contacts: assorted talks – ministerial, economic, and military – as well as family reunions and visits of various kinds. There were also at least two “firsts”: the much-delayed cross-border railway test and an inter-Korean business team tour that looked at ROK firms and their investments in China and Vietnam.
China-Korea Relations: Strategic Maneuvers for the “Sandwich Economy” (PDF, 9 pages, 86 KB) by Scott Snyder, The Asia Foundation/Pacific Forum CSIS
China’s shadow over the Korean Peninsula is ever looming. As soon as KORUS FTA negotiations were concluded, the ROK media played up the FTA as having a strategic and economic significance to counter the pull of China’s rise. Likewise, the North’s eagerness to accept a surprise visit by Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill generated concern among some Chinese analysts that a rapid U.S.-DPRK rapprochement would cut China out of the picture. Meanwhile, the Sino-DPRK trade and aid relationship continues to grow, creating another source of anxiety for South Koreans worried that China is taking advantage of special economic concessions with the North. With the China-ROK economic relationship growing, China, closing the technology gap, has the South angst-ridden about being “sandwiched” between the economies of Japan and China. On the military front, China and South Korea agreed to open a hotline and exchanged top-level visits between defense ministers and army chiefs of staff.
Japan-China Relations: Wen in Japan: Ice Melting But . . . (PDF, 15 pages, 121 KB) by James J. Przystup, Institute for National Strategic Studies, NDU
The April 11-13 visit of China’s Premier Wen Jiabao proved to be a public diplomacy success. Wen met Prime Minster Abe Shinzo and both agreed to advance their strategic relationship. Wen addressed the Diet, a historic first; engaged early morning Tokyo joggers in conversation; and played catch with a university baseball team in Kyoto. Wen considered his visit a success. And, judging from the attention given to a mid-June meeting between President Hu Jintao and former Prime Minister Nakasone and members of the Japan-China Youth Friendship Association, so did his boss. In the run-up to the September Party Congress, the media suggested that Hu was running on a platform of improving relations with Japan. Despite repeated high-level commitments to a resolution of the East China Sea issue, little progress was evident at quarter’s end.
Japan-Korea Relations: Treading Water, Little Progress (PDF, 11 pages, 101 KB) by David C. Kang, Dartmouth College, and Ji-Young Lee, Georgetown University
Although progress was made in resolving the Banco Delta Asia dispute between North Korea and the U.S., and international inspectors were invited back into North Korea in June, relations between Japan and North Korea remain deadlocked, with no apparent progress or even political will to address the deep issues that divide them. Seoul and Tokyo made little progress on their history issues and took the fight (over the “comfort women” issue) to the pages of the Washington Post. However, the meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Japan, and South Korea this quarter was a positive step, and with elections coming up in Japan and South Korea, the prospect of further foreign policy changes appears likely. The summer may see movement on the nuclear issue, and the key question will be whether the DPRK and Japan make any progress on the abduction issue.
China-Russia Relations: Partying and Posturing for Power, Petro, and Prestige . . . (PDF, 13 pages, 118 KB) by Yu Bin, Wittenberg University
Russia’s first-ever “Year of China” was somewhat “routinized” during the second quarter, following an extravagant opening in early 2007. Politicians, artists, journalists, and businessmen continued to flock to each country’s major cities as hundreds of celebration activities took place. Normal balancing and bargaining between interlocking institutions of the two strategic partners, however, provided both progress and problems, particularly in the economic area. The long-waited oil pipeline from Russia’s Siberia to Daqing, China may be a matter of time as the pipeline infrastructure is built. Other high-profile energy contracts with China, however, were either being questioned or delayed. Moscow and Beijing were working hard to prepare the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for two events: the Peace Mission-2007 military exercise in Russia and a friendship treaty to be signed at the August summit in Kyrgyzstan.
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