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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mission Impossible

The end of Cold War brought new challenges in every country in the world. The new world order was born. The world was not about the competition of two great powers, U.S and Russia. How to deal with the new environment was the first question in every country. However, each country has different answers and different ways to face the new world order.

East Asia is the most interesting subject for the international studies scholar, because during the Cold World’s era the real war happened in Asia (Korean’s and Vietnam’s war). North and South Korea are located in Northeast Asia, and Vietnam located is located in Southeast Asia. Following what will happen in this regional level is a very challenging study. However, we have to see at least two important aspects: economy and security.

Both southeast and northeast Asia have different history after World War II. Southeast Asia countries have faced the common challenge during Cold War and they have made a new regional architecture forum, named ASEAN. However, Northeast Asia has failed to build any sub-regional institution, it has made somewhat more progress with broader institutions. Northeast Asia is still under the Cold War’s shadow. Northeast Asia still has North Korea nuclear crisis, Taiwan straits problem, and the competition between Japan and China.

Two decades after the end of Cold War, East Asia becomes one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing regions . Besides, the raise of China is the most fantastic world’s phenomenon. In January 2006, the People’s Republic’s of China gross domestic product (GDP) exceeded that of Britain and France, making China the world’s fourth-largest economy. In December, it was announced that China replaced the United States as the world’s largest exporter of technology goods. Many experts predict that Chinese economy will be second to the United States by 2020, and possibly surpass it by 2050 .

The rise of China has impact to Southeast Asia. China has made some meetings to prepare on joining economy cooperation between China and ASEAN. On 2000, China wanted to support ASEAN. Premier Zhu Rongji expressed his government’s intention to positively participate in the process of regional cooperation. In a separate meeting during the summit, he suggested the idea of free trade between China and ASEAN. China and ASEAN countries signed a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Therefore, the next questions are; could the actual phenomenon contribute on making security institution(s) in East Asia? If the answer is yes, so, the next questions are what kind of security institution(s) that could accommodate all East Asian countries? For what purposes or what kind of threats that perhaps could make all East Asia countries aware and realize the need of security institution(s)? And who will be the leader?

This paper will explore the possibility of East Asia countries to have their own security institution(s). Therefore, I try to find out this opportunity from 3 major actors: ASEAN, China, Japan plus U.S. Next, this paper will explore from ASEAN’s perspective, China-U.S relationship, Japan-U.S relationship and the last one is about China-Japan relationship.

ASEAN
First I will analyze that opportunity from ASEAN’s perspective. The unity of Asia, especially in security affairs, is possible if we start from ASEAN’s site. It is just because Southeast Asia countries have some experiences maintaining regional forums for at least four decades until now. As we know, Northeast Asia has no credit at all comparing to ASEAN.

The real sign of making unity on Asia comes from ASEAN. ASEAN contributes at least in two important aspects; consists of the building of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). AEC in 2015 has been signed by 10 ASEAN countries at the 13th ASEAN summit on November 2007 in Singapore. The purpose of AEC is to achieve regional economic integration so that ASEAN becomes a single market and production area. There are 5 pillars reinforcement performed from the economic side, which are; the free flow of goods, services, investment, skilled labor and more freely capital flows. All of these pillars are implemented gradually in accordance with the strategic schedule which has been agreed together. In general, since 2008 AEC has gradually liberalized each pillar. The stages are monitored by the ASEAN mechanism scorecard.

On the other hand, ARF has a vision; promoting peace and security through dialogue and cooperation in the Asia Pacific. It means ARF is ready and has a chance to cooperate with other countries in Pacific including Japan, South Korea and China. In the other words, it sounds like a positive signal.

ASEAN actually is still under ‘occupations’ of U.S influences both on economic and security aspects. U.S has a close relationship in almost every ASEAN’s member. Therefore/As the result, the idea of making security institution(s) without involving U.S in every analysis means nothing. If the institution(s) could exist, will it make an advantage to U.S or not?

Talking regionalism, perhaps ASEAN could contribute their experience; however, still ASEAN’s principal contribution to Asian regionalism has been normative and social, rather than material and structural.
China-U.S relationship

The rise of China is a new subject. The willingness of China to spread its influence (soft power) in Southeast Asia (ASEAN) could be seen as a light in the darkness for some ASEAN’s countries. China is starting to open its politic and economic foreign policy. And at least, for some ASEAN countries, it can be assumed that China needs ASEAN or at least, China will not become a threat.

Not just in economic aspect, China also strengthens its military buildup. China adopts an increasingly assertive stance on the regional stage; it will undoubtedly heighten perceptions of threat among policymakers in Washington. China has developed close economic relation with oil-rich countries such as Sudan, Iran and Venezuela which are viewed with strong suspicion by the United States. These relationships raise the potential for China’s geopolitical interests to clash with the United States .

China has a political plan to be a great power in the world. It means that it will be a challenge to U.S. The same interest for their energy security agenda in Balkan will make the bad tamper over both China and U.S. How to solve North Korea Nuclear crisis, and how to “manage” Southeast Asia are the other problems. The security institution(s) could be seen on U.S perspective that China will lead this institution(s) just because China is the greatest power on that region.

But Mixin Pei refused that analysis. Pei argued, even though China has upgraded their military forces, but still, China’s forces only 1/3 from the U.S. “With the economic growth like this moments, it need 77 years latter to be equal with U.S gross domestic product”.

However, the fact is, deficit trading from U.S to China has made U.S changed its economic foreign policies. U.S also worried with the actual price of Yuan (China’s currency). China also bought U.S foreign exchange reserves $ 1,8 billion.
Therefore, if U.S. perceives China as a competitor; it may eschew minilateral forums in favor of broader cross-regional ones where China’s influence can be diluted. If, on the other hand, bilateral relationship between China and the U.S. get warmer Washington may play a larger role in creating and strengthening regional security organizations to share the burden with Beijing .

Japan-U.S relationship
Northeast Asia has been dominated by US in Asia Pacific since 1950s (San Francisco System including Japan, South Korea, and US relationship). The failure of this system made Japan and South Korea built their economy and security by themselves. There are so many actions campaigning anti-US sentiment in South Korea and Japan.

Japan-China relationship
Historical rivalries have helped to foster threat perceptions on both sides, inhibiting the formation of any robust security institution in Northeast Asia. Similarly, the relationship between India and Pakistan is the key to the sub regional order in South Asia, and more broadly its relationship with the rest of Asia . As long as Japan and China continue their rivalry, it’s impossible making security institution(s) in East Asia.

Conclusions
I agree with the analysis from Vinold. He mentioned that the rise of China and the resultant triangular relationship among the U.S, Japan, and China is the major aspects to make regionalism in Asia. The complex balance of power in this part of region does not allow a single pacesetter, thus motivating these major powers to consider sharing (and competing for) regional leadership and influence each other through minilateral economic and security forums, including the ASEAN Plus Three (APT), the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the Northeast Asian Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD).

The form of security institution(s) depend on the integration of those elements that I have mentioned before. The institution will exist if only China can consolidate with Japan and ASEAN, and reducing the influence or the dependence ASEAN’s and Japan to U.S. Moreover, it is only just an assumption if U.S still in a quiet position. And I am sure that U.S will never let this flow with China’s rule.

It will be hard or it seems like the mission impossible making security institution. However, there are some possibilities on making some security institutions among East Asia’s countries.
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