The Making of Northeast Asia

The Making of Northeast Asia

The Making of Northeast Asia

The Making of Northeast Asia

Synopsis

Northeast Asia, where the interests of three major nuclear powers and the world's two largest economies converge around the unstable pivot of the Korean peninsula, is a region rife with political-economic paradox. It ranks today among the most dangerous areas on earth, plagued by security problems of global importance, including nuclear and missile proliferation. Yet, despite its insecurity, the region has continued to be the most rapidly growing on earth for over five decades- and it is emerging as an identifiable economic, political, and strategic region in its own right. As the locus of both economic growth and political-military uncertainty in Asia has moved further to the Northeast, a need has developed for a book that focuses analytically on prospects for Northeast Asian cooperation within the context of both Asia and the Asia-Pacific regional relationship. This book does exactly that, while also offering a more general theory for Asian institution building.

Excerpt

The evolution of social, economic, and political ties among China, Japan, and Korea has fateful importance for global affairs in the twenty-first century. Japan and China are the largest economies on earth, apart from the United States, and together hold well over half of the world’s foreign-exchange reserves. South Korea is an advanced nation in its own right. The Korean peninsula’s internal uncertainties—particularly North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs—could impact both Sino-Japanese relations and the broader world. Japan, China, and Korea are all technological powers of consequence in different political-economic spheres.

If the Northeast Asian trio actively collaborate, they could become the catalyst for a new global order—one of the few potential challenges to U.S. global hegemony. If the trio finds itself in conflict, its struggles could destabilize Asia, and perhaps the world. Northeast Asia holds, in short, a potential to reshape the world as we know it that is matched only by uncertainties in the Middle East.

Northeast Asia and its future have fascinated both of us throughout most of our careers. One coauthor has lived eleven years in Japan, taught at Seoul National University in Korea, and traveled more than 150 times across the Pacific, to all three countries of this region, over half a century. The younger co-author was born and raised in China, graduated from Beijing University, and has lived and traveled in Korea and Japan also. Together we have interviewed leaders, conducted seminars, and visited locations across the region—ranging from Korea’s North-South railway station near Kaesong to Chiang Kai-shek’s birthplace on the Chinese mainland—that bear powerful evidence to the historic transformations now underway.

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