Mon, Nov 29, 2004 - Page 8 News List

US' Far East strategy is hanging in the balance

By Li Hua-chiu李華球

According to a Washington report in Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) (日本經濟新聞), US President George W. Bush's administration is now upgrading the "six-party talks" on North Korea's nuclear crisis to a new forum on security defense in the Northeastern Asian region. This idea was allegedly proposed by then US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice during her visit to Beijing in July. In light of the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula, the proposal is both understandable and to be expected. But what are the US' real intentions?

First of all, three rounds of the six-way talks have already taken place. But to this day no consensus has been reached, and no concrete, effective management of the nuclear crisis has been seen. This allows North Korea to maintain its tough stance in a confrontation with the US. In turn, the US is impatient and eager to remove this thorn from its side by proposing the new forum.

The US most likely wants to expand talks into a permanent forum for dialogue about systematic security cooperation, both to enhance the scope and strength of its strategic power across the world, and to realize its ambition of becoming the leader of an Asia-Pacific strategic alliance.

To quickly resolve the crisis, the US proposed the new round of talks during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Chile. The US seeks to highlight its influence in the international community and to oppress Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

The US is using China to restrain North Korea, while strengthening its military cooperation with Japan. It has publicly and privately supported Japan rebuilding its military power. The US wants to curb China's advantage in the Asia-Pacific region, weaken Beijing's leading role, and to expand its own strategic territory. Washington may shift deployment from Europe to the Asia-Pacific region in order to leverage a strategic position on the two continents and to integrate its global strategic power. In the future, it may even value Asia above Europe. If the proposed new forum becomes a reality, the significance of the China-led ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) may be undermined.

Finally, the international community has nearly forgotten Russia after the Cold War era. In fact, Russia still has the chance to rise again, as President Vladimir Putin has made great efforts to rebuild a strong state. The US is aware of this possibility, and is trying to prevent this from happening. Russia's role in the Asia-Pacific region will be restricted by the US once the proposed new forum succeeds. Thus, the US superpower will get involved in an Asia-Pacific strategic game dominated by China, Russia, and Japan. It is predicted that the future "coopetition" (競合, cooperation and competition) in the Asia-Pacific region will drastically change, affecting the strategic balance in the region. We can only hope this competition brings favorable consequences to the region.

Both Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) showed their determination to resolve the North Korea issue during the APEC meeting. Bush believes that if the five nations in the six-way talks [China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the US] can speak in one voice, they can definitely influence North Korea's attitude. The long-term goal of this alliance is the establishment of a new forum.

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