miércoles, 22 de diciembre de 2010

China, North Korea and the (in) stability in the East Asia region

China, North Korea and the (in) stability in the East Asia region

                                                                                     Carlos Aquino*

The increase in tensions in the East Asian region, that began with the shelling of a South Korea island, the Yeonpyeong, by North Korea, the response by South Korea military, followed by joint military exercises by South Korea and US forces, and the military exercises by South Korea military are reaching dangerous levels.


Besides that, Japan has announced that it will review its military strategy, from a basic defence capability to a dynamic defence capability, to confront the menace of North Korea. China has said that the Japanese attitude is “irresponsible” and it is possible that it will increase its military capacity also, in an arms race that will bring instability in the region.


 Now, the factor destabilizing the region is clearly North Korea. It is a poor country that has many of its citizens suffering from hunger but keeps a huge army. This country has increased year by year its military capacity, now with the possession of probably some atomic bombs and the capability to perhaps produce additional ones. Its increased military capability has been possible in spite of its promise in several meeting (like the six-party talk, group that includes North and South Korea, China, Russia, US and Japan) of not producing or possessing arms of massive destruction, in exchange of economic aid


As many see it, the stance of North Korea in the region is possible by the backing of China. It is the only country that provides it with some aid, like energy and food (and some arms) and its veto power in the UN Security Council has protected North Korea of some international sanctions. The problem is that this backing brings no friends to China in countries like Japan and South Korea and could put at risk its own economic growth.


The clear fact is that it is not in the interest of China to continue backing North Korea. This is worsening its relations with its neighbours, like Japan and South Korea, justify the continue presence of US forces in the region, could provoke an arms race, and make East Asia a dangerous region.


The region and China needs stability to continue their economic growth. It does not need to distract resources in an arms race and with it disrupt that growth.                 


China responsibility as a global player, commensurate with its recently gained position as the second biggest economy in the world, is called into question. It must balance its support to North Korea with is role of as a global player that want to increase its economic power and with it bring development to its people. The stability in the region is a sine qua non condition for that. The economic integration in the region, with the increasing mobility of capital, goods and people within it, that means mutual gains to all parties involved, should not be put at risk by the nasty behaviour of North Korea.     


* Carlos Aquino is professor at San Marcos National University in Lima, Peru.




No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario