The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter
Newsletter No. 34. 2012   

August 20, 2012   
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Two contradictory tendencies characterize recent developments in the Asia-Pacific and they form the context for this week's issue. Growing geopolitical tensions amidst rising nationalism increasingly characterize China-Japan, Japan-Korea, US-North Korea, and China-Southeast Asian relations with flashpoints at Dokdo/Takeshima, Senkakus/Diaoyu, US-North Korea and China-
ASEAN relations. In a series of major articles, Morton Halperin offers an approach to breaking the US-North Korea gridlock, Leon Sigal reviews the history and prospects for US-North Korea relations, and Carlyle Thayer reviews the mounting ASEAN-China conflict over territorial claims to the South China Sea. At the same time, trade integration across Asia provides an alternative perspective on the regional future, as examined by Heribert Dieter.

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Morton H. Halperin, A New Approach to Security in Northeast Asia: Breaking the Gridlock

American policy should continue to be directed at seeking to persuade the government of the DPRK to give up its nuclear weapons and its capacity to produce weapons grade fissionable material. This goal may not be attainable either because the DPRK leadership is no longer willing, if it ever was, to give up this option, or because its prize for doing so is more than the United States or other nations is prepared to pay. However, the costs of accepting a DPRK operational nuclear capability are very high and we should not accept this outcome without at least one more sustained effort to find a solution.

It seems clear that the approach that the United States has tried thus far in Democratic and Republican administrations has reached a dead end. The approach had three elements. First, an effort was made to negotiate a common understanding of the end point of the process which included a de-nuclearized peninsula and an end to hostile intent. This understanding was embodied in a general political statement between the US and the DPRK (Joint Statement of June 11, 1993) or the ROK and the DPRK. It was not legally binding and had no enforcement mechanisms nor a blueprint for how to reach the set of changes specified in the understanding.

Based on these guiding principles there was an effort to negotiate a set of specific steps that each side would take on a quid-pro-quo basis. A very broad agreement was negotiated during the Clinton Administration (Agreed Framework, October 1994) and a narrower one was negotiated during the Obama administration on February 29, 2012.

Since August 2003, a third element was added to the package, namely the six party talks. The assumption was that formalizing the role of Russia and Japan along with the two Koreas and China and the United States could facilitate the reaching and enforcement of an agreement.

This approach made sense and came close to reaching a final agreement. It also delayed the DPRK nuclear program for a substantial period of time and led to the disabling of the one reactor that has produced all of the weapons grade fissionable material which the DPRK now possesses. However, it was not able to produce a final settlement and is at a dead end.

In this wide-ranging article, Halperin offers a negotiating strategy to break the gridlock.

Morton H. Halperin is a senior advisor to the Open Society Foundations. An expert on foreign policy and civil liberties, he served in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton administrations including Director of the Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State (1998-2001).


Recommended citation: Morton H. Halperin, "A New Approach to Security in Northeast Asia: Breaking the Gridlock," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 34, No. 3, August 20, 2012.

Read More. . . 
Leon V. Sigal, In Deep Denial on North Korea and Prospects for US-North Korea Negotiations

"History is bunk," Henry Ford once proclaimed. His statement is often cited as evidence for Americans' lack of interest in the past. But some versions of history are bunk. Two memoirs by National Security Council officials, Victor Cha in the Bush administration and Jeffrey Bader in the Obama administration, reflect Washington's deep denial of its own recent past with North Korea. Deep denial still misinforms - and shackles - U.S. policy.

Three theses are central to their readings of history. First is their characterization of past dealings with Pyongyang as, in Bader's words, a "cycle of North Korean provocation, extortion, and accommodation (by China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States) and reward." No doubt, North Korea's bargaining tactics have been aggressive, but did it always take without ever giving up anything in return? Second is their claim that Pyongyang was never willing to stop arming: "For decades," writes Bader, "its leaders have single-mindedly pursued a nuclear weapons program. Their tactics have shifted, but their goal has not." Third is their confidence that the Kim regime will not last long. Cha calls it "The Impossible State," by which he means it is on the verge of collapse once again: "I believe that the forty-fifth president of the United States will contend with a major crisis of governance in North Korea before he or she leaves office."

Willful ignorance of the past has implications for policy, all of them misguided: disengagement and coercion are essential and negotiations can wait. Even worse, there is no need for a coherent North Korea policy-just wait for the regime to collapse, and the problem will go away. The author offers an assessment of previous negotiations and offers suggestions for future talks.

Leon V. Sigal directs the Northeast Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York. He is the author of Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea. This is an expanded version of an article that appeared at 38 North.


Recommended Citation: Leon V. Sigal, "In Deep Denial on North Korea and Prospects for US-North Korea Negotiations," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 10, Issue 34, No. 1, August 20, 2012.

Read More. . .
Carlyle A. Thayer, ASEAN'S Code of Conduct in the South China Sea: A Litmus Test for Community-Building?

In October 2003, the summit meeting of the heads of government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a major statement that declared, "[a]n ASEAN Community shall be established comprising three pillars, namely political and security cooperation, economic cooperation, and socio-cultural cooperation..."1 Each successive ASEAN Summit and Annual Ministerial Meeting (AMM) of foreign ministers has advanced this goal. It was expected that the 45th AMM, held under the motto "ASEAN: One Community, One Destiny," would follow its predecessors by adopting further measures to make the ASEAN Community a reality. As events transpired, differences among ASEAN states over how to manage territorial disputes in the South China Sea emerged as a litmus test of their ability to achieve an ASEAN Political-Security Community by 2015.

This article analyses internal ASEAN differences on the South China Sea by offering new insights provided by three documents: Philippine Working Draft, Philippines Draft Code of Conduct; ASEAN's Proposed Elements of a Regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) between ASEAN Member States and the People's Republic of China; and Summary of Cambodia Chair's intervention at the AMM Retreat, 9 July 2012.2

This article is divided into five parts. The first part briefly presents the historical background to the evolution of ASEAN's policy on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. It then sharpens the discussion by comparing the Philippine Working Draft, Philippines Draft Code of Conduct drawn up in early 2012 with ASEAN's Proposed Elements of a Regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea approved by the 45th AMM in July. Part two examines internal discussions by ASEAN foreign ministers at their 45th AMM Retreat. These discussions reveal the issues that prevented the foreign ministers from reaching consensus on the wording of a single paragraph on the South China Sea and the unprecedented decision by the ASEAN Chair to withhold issuing the customary joint communiqué. Part three details the public recriminations that followed, while part four discusses Indonesia's shuttle diplomacy to restore ASEAN unity. Part five offers an evaluation of the implications of these developments for ASEAN unity, the prospects for an ASEAN-China COC, and an ASEAN Political-Security Community.

Carlyle A. Thayer is Emeritus Professor, The University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra.


Recommended citation: Carlyle A. Thayer, "ASEAN'S Code of Conduct in the South China Sea: A Litmus Test for Community-Building?," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 34, No. 4, August 20, 2012.

Heribert Dieter, The Advance-and the Limits-of Trade Integration in Asia

After decades of preoccupation with traditional security issues, trade, finance and investment have become key areas of concern to policy makers in Asia, broadly defined to include South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia. Whereas in the past, governments in Asia applied a traditional understanding of security, today 'economic security' is part of a broadened concept of security that most countries in Asia apply (Pempel 2010a: 213). Of course, international trade and the efforts to deepen intra-regional trade integration are part of this process.

In the midst of the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, international trade seemed to be collapsing. Especially those economies that showed very high levels of integration into the global economy, e.g. Singapore, suffered badly. By 2010, however, trade was recovering quickly two years after the crisis broke. Asian economies have of course not been hit as hard by the global financial crisis as the European and American economies. Since the crisis, trade has again led recovery. Thus, trade integration is enjoying renewed attention in the region and beyond.
In Asia, trade integration has shaped the economic and political debate for decades. There has always been a distinction between market-led and policy-led trade integration. The former refers to the tendency of firms to obtain raw materials, intermediate products and end products across borders from the cheapest source. The second form is government-induced trade integration, in particular the creation of preferential trade agreements such as free trade areas and customs unions whose trajectory may be shaped by political calculation.

The author provides an overview of trade integration in Asia.

Heribert Dieter is Senior Fellow,German Institute for International Affairs, Berlin. An earlier version of this paper was published in Mark Beeson and Richard Stubbs (eds.): Routledge Handbook of Asian Regionalism, London and New York: Routledge, 2012, pp. 116-128.


Recommended Citation: Heribert Dieter, "The Advance-and the Limits-of Trade Integration in Asia," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 10, Issue 34, No. 2, August 20, 2012.