Home Contact Us  

China - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4235, 6 January 2014

East Asia Compass

China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads
Sandip Kumar Mishra
Faculty, Department of East Asian Studies, DU & Visiting Fellow, IPCS

Japanese Prime Minister Shinjo Abe visited Yasukuni shrine on 26 December last year and the visit invited usual condemnations from China and South Korea. The US also reacted by saying it ‘disappointing’ and would lead to ‘exacerbate tensions’ in the region. However, Japanese posturing has been relentless and on the New Year day, Japanese Internal Affairs Minister Yoshitaka Shindo had another visit to the shrine. The tension and mistrust in East Asia has been escalating in recent years and Japan, China and North Korea have shown uncompromising intent to compete rather than concede and cooperate on the issues of mutual disagreements. China has recently declared its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) unilaterally, which goes beyond its contest in East China Sea with Japan over Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. North Korea is also going through domestic power struggle and restructuring of equations with its closest ally China. In this problematic interstate relations in the region, the Japanese right-wing assertions in domestic politics and its impact on foreign policy has further complicated the security calculus of the region.
The East Asian region is closely connected in economic, educational and cultural spheres but there is a huge trust deficit in security arena and it poses a grave challenge for further economic exchanges and integration of the region. There are assurances that the tension among these countries would not move beyond a certain limit as economic interdependent would bring in moderation in their behaviours. However, the argument may not sustainable beyond a point. If the escalation of tension among these countries could not be checked, it may derail and disrupt their cooperation in every field. 
The role of the US is considered to be important as it has leverage to pacify Japan and constructively engage China to make the region more stable. The US could also convey China to contain North Korean provocative behaviour as well as sock-observe any instability in North Korea. Washington has been trying to reach out Beijing through its diplomatic channel but there is no indication that it has been equally keen in pacifying Japan. The Japanese aggressive posturing, even if not openly appreciated by the US, has been granted silent consent by the US and it is quite unsettling for not only China but also South Korea. Japan has been cleverly silenced Washington by remaining fully committed to the US alliance and its interests in the regional politics. For example, the day after the Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Yasukuni, Okinawa governor agreed to relocate the US military base at Futenma to near by Henoko. It was characterised as ‘critical milestone’ by the US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. It appears that the US is more interested in its narrow national interests in the region and it does not have any serious objection with Japanese aggressive posturing. Probably, the US thinks that an assertive Japan would be a buffer against the rise of Chinese influence in the region. Many scholars relate American concession to Japan with its strategy of ‘Asian pivot’. There are also speculations that probably the US does not have enough diplomatic leverage over Japan to stop its aggressive posturing and so it has decided to go along with Japanese plan of things rather than dictating its own terms.
Whatever be the reason, the complacency on the part of the US would definitely make it difficult for Washington have any credible and consequential engagement with China. China would not be satisfied by the use of words like ‘disappointment’ and it would definitely chart out its own course of actions, which might be detrimental for the regional security environment. The Chinese announcement to have its own ADIZ could be better understood in the light of above dynamics. Furthermore, the US conceding and accommodative behaviour vis-à-vis Japan poses a difficult question to South Korea, which is equally close ally of the US in the region. Even though, South Korea enjoys security guarantee from the US, it has to rethink about its own security equations in the neighbourhood. South Korea is challenged by a belligerent and ‘unpredictable’ North Korea as well as an aggressive and uncompromising Japan. Seoul tried to forge a cooperative relationship with China in variety of areas when South Korean President Park Geun-hye visited Beijing in mid-2013. Although, it does not mean that South Korea would abandon its old ally- the US, in near future but continuous Japanese aggressive posturing and insufficient American attempt to prohibit it, may force it to review its relations with the US. 
Thus, the East Asian region is at a crossroad and a vicious cycle of threatening and uncompromising behaviours have been posing huge risk of conflict. No single country could be blamed for present escalations and there have been chains of actions and reactions. It would be pertinent to see how soon all the stakeholders realise that the process must be stopped collectively or it may lead to a point of no return

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Ranjit Gupta,
"Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?," 3 February 2014
Aparupa Bhattacherjee,
"China, Myanmar, and the Myitsone Dam: Uncertain Future," 31 January 2014

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
'Comfort Women' and the Japan-South Korea Relationship

Denial and Provocation: Failure of US' North Korea Policy

Trump's Visit to East Asia

Shinzo Abe’s North Korea Strategy

North Korea: Testing the Limits of US-South Korea Relations

The US' Acrobatic Responses to the North Korean Riddle

Japan’s ‘New Approach’ to Russia: Is it Moving Forward?

India and the Koreas: Promises and Follow-ups

South Korea-North Korea: A New Version of Engagement

Trump’s North Korea Policy: Regional Implications

Park Geun-hye's Impeachment and South Korean Foreign Policy

US Tactical Nukes in the Korean Peninsula?

Forecast 2017: East Asia

Japan-China Contestation in 2017

Donald Trump and East Asia

PM Modi’s Visit to Japan: Prospects and Prudence

Future of the TPP and the US' Pivot to Asia

Russia’s Overtures in East Asia

China’s Game on North Korea

Six-Party Talks 2.0: Not for Denuclearisation but for Peace

Deadlock at Shangri-La: Is There a Way Forward?

North Korea’s 7th Party Congress: Context and Content

Japan’s New Security Laws: Context and Implications

What is the Efficacy of Sanctions on North Korea?

‘Brilliant’ Comrade: The Design in North Korean Madness

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.