“New Cold War” Thinking Covering Northeast Asia


Since the Bush administration took office, policy towards Asia has changed greatly and taken on a more hawkish tone. The Bush administration raised objections to President Kim Dae Jung’s Sunshine Policy and the possibility has arisen that the situation with regard to North-South dialogue in the Korean Peninsula faces a turning point. The USA’s sale of high-tech weapons to Taiwan and President Bush’s speech on the subject of defending Taipei from a Chinese attack have further aggravated the US – China relationship, which was already tense due to the collision of a Chinese Air Force fighter with a US reconnaissance aircraft. Furthermore, issues such as the textbook controversy, the granting of an entry visa to former Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui and the safeguard issue have complicated the Japan-China relationship as well. Underlying these new movements is a feeling that China is a potential rival, which is leading these countries to strengthen their constraints on it.

The features of international relations at the beginning of the 21st century are “constraints” and “alliance”, however, mutual constraints will stand out for the next two to three years, because the countries such as the US, China and Japan, have encouraged nationalism and it is highly likely that this will provide mutual impetus to each country. Moreover, with the recovery of its economy, Russia is on course to become a great power, while US policy towards Russia is becoming more rigid. This is very much a sign of the advent of a “New Cold War”.

However, in the flow of history, as regards economic globalization, political dialogue has become the mainstream. It is high time that influential individuals intensified criticism of “New Cold War” thinking and prepared for a period of international coalition, which is expected to arrive in a few years time.

Regarding Northeast Asia, the first ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) 10+3 (including China, Japan and the ROK) Summit Meeting, which is going to be held this year, must be made a success by developing deeper academic and private sector relations. Last year, in light of the highly desirable circumstances in Northeast Asia and East Asia, I called people’s attention to the US putting its foot on the brakes, and just as I expected, since around last autumn, an American strategic study group has put together a policy of estrangement with regard to East Asian economic cooperation. Japan should take on a role as the Britain of Asia (following the military operations of the US) and establish a US-Japan Free Trade Area.

On the one hand, the US has planned the construction of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, an enlargement of the NAFTA. On the other hand, it is placing constraints on the formation of a regional economic bloc in East Asia that doesn’t involve the US. It is being questioned how the countries in East Asia, especially Japan and China, will react to these movements. In East Asia, there are no foundations for dealing such issues for the time being, so there is concern that 2001 may be a dull year in comparison with the enhancements of the previous year.

If we observe the situation in the medium and long-term, the formation of East Asian economic cooperation and, moreover, an East Asian collective security arrangement is historically necessary, and this opinion is increasingly held by influential individuals in East Asia. I hope that such influential individuals in East Asia resist the backflow of the Bush administration and make efforts to advance the cause of East Asian economic cooperation by steering public opinion and the governments of their countries.

[Translated by ERINA]