Sat, Oct 04, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Talks on N Korea could be a good sign

FAVORABLE FALLOUT Rather than worrying about what is wrong with China getting involved, this country should look at the possible benefits, experts say

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan is too worried about the negative fallout it might receive from the six-party talks hosted by China to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, visiting South Korean academics said yesterday.

Instead of being a harbinger of doom, the August talks might signal certain good tidings for the development of cross-strait relations and even open another arena for Taiwan to get involved in regional affairs, academics said at a seminar held by the Cross-Strait Interflow Prospect Foundation.

During the seminar, entitled "The Strategic Implications of the Six-Party Talks on Washington, Beijing and Taipei," Taiwanese and South Korean academics expressed different views about whether Taiwan would be marginalized in the regional security network as a consequence of the talks.

SUPERPOWER

By bringing the six parties to Beijing to talk about peaceful solutions to the nuclear crisis, China has strived to portray itself as a responsible regional superpower, said Han Suk-hee, a research professor from South Korea's Yonsei University.

Given that China is largely seen by the international community as a threat, the Beijing leadership has been required to identify China as a non-violent power and to be more transparently in favor of the status quo, Han said.

China's efforts to be seen as a non-violent regional superpower has significant implications, mostly positive, for how it will handle cross-strait issues, Han said.

"China's restraint of using violence in regard to the issue of Taiwan, in any case, should be maintained under Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) new leadership," predicted Han, who once served as a policy analyst for the South Korean embassy in Beijing.

Now regarded as Asia's economic powerhouse, China is also keen to promote comprehensive regional economic prosperity, Han said.

"Given the massive Taiwanese investment in China and increased volume of trade, China needs to maintain a favorable relationship with Taiwan," Han said.

Choo Jae-woo, an assistant professor from South Korea's Kyung Hee University, cautiously echoed Han's observation that the six-party talks might bring more positive than negative things for Taiwan, though he differed on what he saw as being the perceived positive aspects.

Choo, firmly optimistic about the future development of the six-party talks, expected more countries to participate in future meetings and the eventual institutionalization of the talks.

The institutionalization of the talks will crucially change how East Asia's international security networks are handled, because it will mean "the regional security issues will no longer be subject to the influence of a single dominate state," Choo said.

OPPORTUNITY

After the talks are institutionalized, regional security issues will not be dominated by a singe bilateral relationship, either, Choo said.

Choo pointed out that the US has revealed its plan to launch a missile-defense system in East Asia in the near future, of which Taiwan and South Korea are the potential hosting states.

"If the six-party talks could be transformed into a multilateral cooperative security system, it then may be able to offer a discussion table to those who are greatly concerned about the US' pursuit of missile-defense in East Asia," Choo said.

Taiwan's potential role in such a missile-defense system could be discussed once a cooperative security system is established in the region, Choo said.

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