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  • Author: Wang Dong, Sun Bingyan
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korean Economic Institute (KEI)
  • Abstract: What will it take to jump start trilateral talks among Beijing, Seoul, and Washington over the situation on the Korean Peninsula, including the denuclearization of North Korea? If this subject has been on the minds of South Koreans in 2016-17 with some approaching their counterparts in Beijing and Washington, DC in the hope that such triangular talks can be launched—the more official, the better—not many Chinese have addressed what would be necessary to enlist their country in this endeavor. This chapter argues that, at present, China is unprepared to take this route. A major factor is the sense that there are imbalances that complicate the triangle. Beyond the substance of what would be on the agenda, Chinese are concerned by South Korea’s alignment and how it would affect the course of the discussions.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China, America, Korea
  • Author: Gilbert Rozman
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korean Economic Institute (KEI)
  • Abstract: Of five alternative approaches to addressing the North Korean threat to stability in East Asia and beyond, this section is concerned with the possibility of just one—a diplomatic approach via Three-Way Talks among China, South Korea, and the United States. We single out this approach as the golden mean for reconciling the conflicting interests among the parties best positioned to reshape the calculus of Pyongyang. It represents the path to compromise. Among the alternatives, there is the Chinese appeal for a dual-track approach through Six-Party Talks, aimed at a peace treaty on terms attractive to North Korea and greatly transformative to the security architecture in Northeast Asia. This could hardly be called a compromise, since Seoul and Washington regard this as a win for Pyongyang and evidence that Beijing actually has been siding with Pyongyang. Another alternative is Strategic Patience, which is a misnomer for the policy of the Obama administration, but, in any case, refers mainly to reliance on increased deterrence as pressure is ratcheted up. In fact, Obama was seeking a pathway to three-way talks, giving China time to shift in that direction bolstered by new sanctions, while in 2016 also moving closer to a fourth approach: Unilateral Sanctions targeted at the Chinese firms assisting North Korea. A fifth option is Alliance Triangularity to force change in Pyongyang.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, International Security
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Kim Heung-kyu
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korean Economic Institute (KEI)
  • Abstract: Although we are only into the first months of the Trump administration, many Koreans recognize that the U.S.-led, market-oriented, liberal international order has been severely shaken. In the background, the rapid rise of China and rather successful economic reforms under Xi Jinping have dramatically reduced its vulnerability and sensitivity to the United States. As one power’s grip is shaken and another’s is energized, two different orders are emerging in East Asia. We accordingly witness a “Clash of Titans,” the fallout from which could be fatal to the security and economy of the Republic of Korea.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Joel Wuthnow
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korean Economic Institute (KEI)
  • Abstract: During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, the candidates reached a bipartisan consensus on one issue: how to deal with North Korea. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both called for China to do more to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program once and for all. Candidate Trump said that China has “absolute control” over North Korea and promised to do whatever it takes to convince Beijing to use that leverage, including imposing penalties on Chinese firms. As president, however, Trump will have to navigate the reality of China’s extreme hesitance to use the only type of pressure likely to divert North Korea’s nuclear ambitions—the threat of regime-endangering punishment. If and how China should continue to fit into U.S. strategy for dealing with North Korea will thus be a key issue facing Trump and his advisors
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Korea
  • Author: Mark Tokola
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korean Economic Institute (KEI)
  • Abstract: For the proverbial visitor from Mars, the political situation in Northeast Asia is inexplicable. Sitting amidst a group of relatively stable, wealthy, and powerful countries, is a small, poor, belligerent nation that all agree is a threat to regional stability. Furthermore, the rogue state has been sanctioned and its behavior condemned by the United Nations for its weapons programs and its human rights abuses. Why can the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, the United States, Russia, and China not combine their considerable leverage to do something about North Korea?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Korea
  • Author: Gilbert Rozman
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korean Economic Institute (KEI)
  • Abstract: The construct “Chinese national identity” refers to narratives from China’s leadership, media, and academic spokespersons about what makes their country distinctive and how those ideas matter in relations with other nations. This is a relational concept that serves to distinguish the “self” and “other,” whose interpretation is shaped by interactions with other states. Seen from the vertical dimension of identity, these interactions are filtered through rhetoric aimed at promoting unity at home. Demonizing other nations while conveying an image of enemies or states seeking to contain China is a means to boost solidarity behind Communist Party control over a society with little means to dissent. The horizontal dimension of identity depicts bilateral relations as the result not of different national interests, but of clashing and often irreconcilable identities. Examining the way national identity on the Chinese side impacts five external relationships is the objective of this set of articles, which concentrate on Chinese rhetoric during the period of Xi Jinping.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Yinan He
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korean Economic Institute (KEI)
  • Abstract: Sino-Japanese relations have been in another volatility cycle since the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands disputes flared up again in summer 2012. The downward trend seems to have bottomed out in November 2014 when the two leaders Xi Jinping and Abe Shinzo finally held their first meeting since entering office. However, the anticipated recovery has proved tenuous; the momentum toward further improvement has halted since early 2016 when confrontation escalated in both the South China Sea and East China Sea. While acknowledging the role of realist power shift and geostrategic rivalry in causing Sino-Japanese tension, this paper argues that a widening gap between their national identities is also highly relevant. The current Xi government has promoted a national reinvigoration campaign emphasizing Chinese history and culture, the socialist model, and defense of core interests, which runs counter to that of Abe’s Japan, a democratic and historically revisionist country. This national identity conflict has exacerbated mutual distrust, denied chances of reassurance, and generated domestic popular objections to diplomatic compromise between the two countries.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Korea
  • Author: See-Won Byun
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korean Economic Institute (KEI)
  • Abstract: How do Chinese national identity narratives affect Sino-South Korean relations? The Koguryo history war more than a decade ago was a turning point in bilateral relations since diplomatic normalization in 1992, generating enduring competition over representations of history. In 2010, China’s commemoration of its entry into the Korean War raised early warnings in South Korea over Beijing’s hostile foreign policy orientation under Xi Jinping. Contrary to such expectations, however, the earliest summit agreements between presidents Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye after both took office in 2013 were on history cooperation as common victims of Japanese colonialism. Most notably in 2015, Park’s participation in Beijing’s 70th anniversary celebrations of the end of World War II consolidated joint claims of what was called the best period in bilateral relations. This chapter assesses the impact of Chinese national identity on China-Republic of Korea (ROK) relations under the Xi and Park administrations since 2013. It examines Chinese constructions of national identity and their implications for the security, economic, and cultural dimensions of the Sino-South Korean relationship. Rather than promoting partnership, competing identities across these dimensions reinforce enduring differences over the region’s political, economic, and cultural order. These differences surfaced most saliently in 2016, following an initial period of engagement that corresponds with the downward trend in China-Japan relations since 2012. Managing them requires the very trust-building that both Beijing and Seoul have prioritized since 2013.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Korea
  • Author: Gilbert Rozman
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Korean Economic Institute (KEI)
  • Abstract: While the other parts of this book bring China fully into the coverage—diplomacy, national identities, and sanctions—here we narrow the focus on U.S.-ROK relations with an eye to the current uncertainty about the future of the KORUS FTA, the five-year old bilateral trade agreement. Donald Trump has assumed the presidency critical of trade imbalances in goods, including assertions about the negative impact of the FTA with South Korea. It appears that the U.S. side will insist on renegotiating the agreement. In order to assess what this could mean, we take a close look at what the impact of KORUS has been and at how the debate in Washington has been unfolding under Trump’s watch. The three chapters were written in the early spring of 2017; so they could capture only the initial impact of Trump at a time when South Korean leadership was paralyzed between impeachment and the election of a new president without any serious bilateral engagement over economic issues. Yet, as tensions over economics are expected to rise, our objective is to inform the discussion with relevant economic background and with awareness of what Trump has been saying and how it may shape the political debate.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Korea
  • Author: Luigi Bonatti
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In The Euro’s Difficult Future – Competitiveness Imbalances and the Eurozone’s North-South Divide author Luigi Bonatti, a professor of economics at the University of Trento in Italy, stresses that the existing North-South competitiveness divide creates growing tensions between member countries and fuels hostility towards European Union institutions. The paper illustrates why this competitiveness divide is structural, cannot be tackled by macroeconomic policies, and could threaten the euro’s survival.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe