International Workshop – Geopolitics and Security Shifts in East Asia 14 Dec 2017
Dr. Miller is a Senior Visiting Fellow with the Japan Institute of International Affairs. Dr. Hardy-Chartrand is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Canada. Both scholars are experts in the field of international affairs in the Asia Pacific. During this international workshop they have, in a spirit of team-work, superbly demonstrated the complex nature of politics and diplomacy in this region.
What was apparent at the very beginning of this lecture was the key role played by Washington. Nonetheless, the audience was cautioned not to neglect or downplay other regional actors and the interaction between their foreign policies – particularly that of Beijing, but also of middle-powers. The latter, so it was underlined, possess high potential with regards to the escalation and mediation of regional tension.
A major segment of the talk was dedicated to the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis. Given Washington’s current DPRK-policy’s focus of strategic pressure coupled with conditional willingness to negotiate, Dr. Miller and Dr. Hardy-Chartrand consider Trump’s North Korea policy not to be fundamentally different from that of the Obama-administration. Considering the North’s recent advances in its development of its ICBM-capability, pressure to accommodate the alliances between the USA, South Korea and Japan, on the one hand, and the role of China, on the other hand, is said to be rising. It remains to be seen to what extent a multilaterally coordinated response can be conjured, given Beijing’s recent support of UNSC Resolutions vis-à-vis North Korea while, overall, refusing to pressure Pyongyang to its fullest. As such, possible future developments in US-ROK and US-Japan relations with regards to the North Korean nuclear and missile crisis have been discussed.
During this workshop, Dr. Miller and Dr. Hardy-Chartrand outlined the overall complexity and multitude of problems in the region. Particular emphasis was put on the frequently neglected interconnectedness between the DPRK crisis, the territorial disputes in the East- and South China Seas, as well as Trump’s economic and military Asia Pacific, or rather, Indo-Pacific policies. Thereby, the fragility of relations and the danger of disputes of one matter transgressing into another were elucidated.
Lastly, attention was given to the role of Canada with regards to international problems in the Asia Pacific. Given its relatively untainted history, Canada was described by the two guest speakers to possess considerable soft power which might enable it to play a key mediating role in the region. Nonetheless, its apparently omnipresent economic interests are in danger of being perceived as a threat by some regional states which might render its potential as an independent mediator increasingly difficult.
Overall, this international workshop was a great educational enrichment for the audience. Dr. Miller and Dr. Hardy-Chartrand managed to introduce, elaborate, and simplify the complex web of regional diplomatic disputes and relations – a particularly difficult endeavor, given the time constraints of one single period.