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Asia-Pacific - A Strategic Assessment

Asia-Pacific - A Strategic Assessment

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Published by Silendo
Asia-Pacific - A Strategic Assessment
Asia-Pacific - A Strategic Assessment

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Published by: Silendo on Jun 12, 2013
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03/24/2014

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Northeast Asia is a place where fve of the world’s

most powerful nations meet: China, Japan, South Ko-
rea, Russia, and the United States (the only odd one
out is North Korea). Three of them are the world’s
largest economies (the United States, China, and Ja-
pan) and largest militaries (China, the United States,
and Russia). In political terms, the United States, Ja-
pan, and South Korea are champions of democracy;
China is the largest authoritarian nation; and Russia
is a bizarre mix of half-baked democracy and half-
revived authoritarian rule.

The fve great powers are strange bedfellows. The

United States, Japan, and South Korea are related
through democratic values and military alliances.
China and Russia are strategic partners of conve-

nience. All fve great powers have been enemy to one

another in the past. Although at times common inter-
est dictates that they cooperate, the fve powers nev-
ertheless follow their own national interests to pursue
their goals.

Confict of interest is natural, but compromise of
national interest is diffcult. A prime example is the
fve powers’ “romance” with North Korea in the past

31

decade. Although their goals were the same—try-
ing to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear
weapons—they nonetheless brought different inter-
ests to the on-and-off Six-Party Talks and ended up
accomplishing nothing.
The North Korea problem, ironically, was a good

thing for the fve great powers. After all, it offered

them a common problem and forced them to cooper-
ate to a good extent. But recently (since early 2010),

a long-time divisive issue among the fve powers

has resurfaced to drive them apart. It is the issue of
Japan’s maritime territorial disputes with Russia,
South Korea, and China. The United States was in-
volved in the making of those disputes and has had a
stake in the quarrels the whole time.
These disputes have almost intractable historical
claims and contemporary circumstances, but none has

a fair or attainable resolution in sight. Recent fare-ups

have only further complicated the relations among the

fve great powers.

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