Security in East Asia

Led by Stein Tønnesson

Jul 2004 – Dec 2004

East Asia saw the world’s worst armed conflicts in the first thirty years after WW2, but has, since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, been remarkably peaceful. This region includes one of the five recognized nuclear powers in the treaty of non-proliferation (China), has a substantial US military presence, and borders another huge nuclear power (Russia). Japan, which has the world’s second largest economy, is generally considered to have prepared itself for quickly developing a nuclear capacity.

There are three main zones of possible crisis in the region: the Korean pensinsula, the Taiwan Strait, and the South China Sea. While no multilateral alliances or formal security structures have been established in East Asia, the USA maintains a number of bilateral alliances and agreements on military cooperation, most notably with Japan. Japan is gradually developing a more active security policy, and may soon abrogate its constitutional prohibition against keeping an army or deploying military forces abroad.

The study will examine two main topics:

(1) Current Sino-American relations, with special focus on the Korean and the Taiwan issues.

(2) China’s energy policy, its increasing dependence on importing Middle East oil, and possible implications for regional security.

(3) The possible democratization of China.

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