Asan Plenum

Contrary to Southeast Asia where the so-called ASEAN Way has led to distinct regional security architecture, Northeast Asia (NEA) is characterized by the absence of any security architecture. Why there is no security architecture in the NEA? In my presentation, I’ll briefly discuss several factors that I believe have contributed to the lack of Northeast Asian Security Architecture (NEASA). Specifically, I’ll discuss the following: 1) DPRK’s persistent determination to pursuing nuclear weapons in defiance of international condemnation and sanctions has repeatedly unsettled the region, increased the tensions in the region, and essentially block the fruition of any NEASA; 2) territorial disputes as well as 3) rising nationalism in the region have greatly hampered the region’s efforts to build any meaningful security architecture; 4) U.S. “returning/Pivot/Rebalancing to Asia” has highlighted the incompatibility between U.S.-led bilateral alliance system and inclusive, regional security architecture. To untie the knots, regional stakeholders would have to work even more closely to deal with the North Korea nuclear challenge; great efforts need to be taken to manage existing territorial disputes and curb rising nationalism; and U.S.-led bilateral alliance system needs to be expanded to be more compatible with regional security architecture, which is multilateral in nature. In other words, bilateralism and multilateralism need to be reconciled in a way that is conducive to multilateral security cooperation. And minilateral dialogue mechanisms such as the U.S-China-Japan Dialogue would be a good step in that direction.