Academic journal article Asian Perspective

Road Map to a Korean Peninsula Peace Regime: A Chinese Perspective

Academic journal article Asian Perspective

Road Map to a Korean Peninsula Peace Regime: A Chinese Perspective

Article excerpt

THE KOREAN PENINSULA PEACE REGIME (KPPR) ORIGINATED IN China's East Asia strategy. China seeks to build a community in East Asia that is focused around an economic framework, cultural ties, social communications, and political cooperation. Under the guidance of China's fourth-generation leadership, Beijing's "good neighbor" foreign policy is based on the principles of political harmony, security and mutual trust, and economic common benefits to construct a peaceful and stable regional environment.

However, the strategy for building an East Asia community, as well as the strategy for establishing a free-trade agreement (FTA) among China, Japan, and South Korea, suffered setbacks because of competition for dominance and historical conflicts among peripheral countries. The US strategy of creating a Transpacific Partnership also has been an impediment to East Asian integration. Likewise, South Korea and Japan's alliance with the United States has politically polarized East Asia. Although Washington's assertions that the US "pivot to Asia" is not directed at China, the reality is that East Asia has been severely split: old disputes over maritime borders and territorial waters have been brought back to the table, inflaming internal divisions in Asia. Peripheral partners also question the legality of China's recently announced Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

Consequently, China's eastward strategy has been frustrated, and it has had to launch northward, westward, and southward strategies (Collins 2014). China is pursuing economic cooperation with Russia, South Asia, and Central Asia so as to demonstrate that its strategy is not offensive or aggressive. China's East Asia strategy needs time to overcome temporary difficulties. The Xi Jinping administration adheres to a peripheral policy based on qin (closeness), cheng (earnestness), hui (benefit), and rong ( inclusiveness) (Cheng 2013). Beijing wants to buy time for an understanding of its policies, meanwhile continuing to promote economic and political reconciliation in East Asia.

If the KPPR can be built and launched, it not only will help bring peace and stability to the Korean peninsula but may also play a key role in strengthening China's East Asia strategy. The KPPR could achieve the former goal by neutralizing the problem of North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK]), which has motivated much of China's interest in Korean peninsula affairs. The KPPR could achieve the latter goal by providing public goods such as security, institutions, and culture to nurture the development of East Asia.

China's policymakers have attached a great deal of importance to economic issues because the US security logic has failed in East Asia. The absolute security pursued by the United States throughout the rest of the world has led to other countries' absolute insecurity, producing conflicts and wars in Africa and Asia. This is also true from the perspective of global economy, politics, and finance. The United States has been exporting inflation, its currency, and economic crisis, plundering other countries in order to overcome its own crisis. Despite the gradual decline of US moral leadership and hard power, the United States is still considered an "anchor of stability" in East Asia. However, if US power recedes and the United States rapidly loses its hegemonic status, East Asia will face unpredictable risks.

Going to war or fighting a trade war is not in China's interest as the country seeks to further its development. China cannot benefit from conflict or from using a US-style approach to economic, political, and cultural hegemony (Zheng 2013). The logic of pursuing absolute security is outdated; pursuing security at the expense of others may create temporary security, but will never bring real security and prosperity to anyone. China's long history illustrates that economic growth, cultural development, and multilateral cooperation are the only measures that can bring peace, stability, security, and prosperity to East Asia (Yoon 2013). …

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