Institute for National Strategic Studies


Over the years the Pacific Symposium has covered a variety of topics stressing security in the region by promoting economic, cultural, and social developments. The 1996 Pacific Symposium selected the topic, "U.S.-Japan-PRC Tripartite Relations: Foundations for a Stable Community?" to achieve two specific objectives: to highlight the idea that the relationship among these three countries is key to the future of Asian-Pacific stability; and to continue to build upon the foundations established in past National Defense University symposia.

One such past symposium, in November 1995, "Shifting Relations Among the World's Major Powers," clearly recognized the increasing significance of the Asian-Pacific region. Three of the five major powers discussed were the United States, Japan, and China. During that symposium the transitioning politico-military-economic architecture of the Asian-Pacific region was examined. A major question was, "How will the world's architecture be affected by the various permutations of relations between and among the United States, Japan, and China?" The 1996 symposium continued that discussion with a more in-depth look at the relationships emerging among these three powers. The goal was to better understand how these three nations might influence the future in the Asia-Pacific as well as explore how their relationship may impact the rest of the world.

Five panels allowed the many participants to explore various aspects of this complex issue.

This book, which is divided into three parts-Security, Strategy, and Economy-begins with the keynote address by the Commandant of the National War College, Rear Admiral Michael McDevitt. Framing the significance of the relationship among China, Japan, and the United States as the very heart of U.S. strategy as outlined by Secretary of State Christopher, he challenges the participants to think about strategy in East Asia differently. Given these strategic considerations, he asks, "Is it possible to accommodate the interests of all the players without conflict?" He thus suggests the answer may lie in a "balance of interests" approach among the three countries. Discussing the usefulness of this approach as well as identifying some definite scenarios which could disrupt the balance, RADM McDevitt concludes his remarks on a positive note, challenging the audience to create a stable foundation for the Pacific community.

Clearly, security in the Asian-Pacific region is paramount, and an understanding of how these three players, collectively and individually, deal with the rest of the global community is critical. Initiating the discussion, David Shambaugh traces the development of European-Sino relations in Western and Eastern Europe, discussing political, social, trade, and economic aspects of the relationships. Pointing out that Sino-Western European relations have always reflected a more businesslike and pragmatic pursuit of their bilateral interests than Sino-U.S. relations, his future outlook is positive. Identifying a few issues, such as arms sales to Taiwan, which will require careful managing, on the whole his outlook for the relationship between the European Union and China is optimistic. Next, James Kelly discusses integrating China through the use of multilateral structures and mechanisms. Pointing out the Asian view of the importance of establishing the relationship first, he discusses ongoing multilateral developments occurring throughout the Asian-Pacific region. Dr. Kelly makes a compelling argument that China, pursuing bilateral relationships in order to achieve multilateral objectives, will become engaged in these mechanisms and structures as it sees itself as a leader in the region. He concludes with some suggestions for U.S. policy in the region.

Security in the region is then viewed through the lens of the military capabilities of China, Japan, and the United States, in an article by Ralph A. Cossa. Discussing each county individually, he turns to the collective regional implications, astutely observing it is the uncertainty of U.S. long-term intentions that causes the greatest anxiety in the region. Finally, the security of the Asian-Pacific region is discussed from the Russian perspective. Yevgeniy Afanasyev delineates Russia's ties to the Pacific as a traditional Pacific power. He discusses the future economic importance of the area to Russia's development and how it is in the best interest of Russia, as well as other countries of the Asian-Pacific region, to engage in development together.

What are some of the strategies which will make the security being sought possible? Part II addresses some of the strategies and topics discussed during the symposium. Leading off, Bilveer Singh's paper, "Dynamics of Tripartite Relations: Great Power Interactions," offers some thoughts. Beginning with a review of the significant changes that have taken place since 1989-such as the move from a bipolar environment to multipolarity, external aggression being replaced with internal instability, and competition being replaced with the notion of cooperative security-Singh then moves to an individual discussion of the United States, China, and Japan. In view of these dramatic shifts and the reaction of the tripartite countries, Singh suggests what needs to be done by the Asian countries to ensure stability is achieved and continued in the region. He writes that the Asian countries must see themselves as partners, both among themselves and with the United States, China, and Japan, if security is to be achieved.

Nancy Tucker continues this theme of what countries must do to ensure stability with a discussion on the complex topic, "The Taiwan Question and United States Relations with China." While China and the United States are central to this possible conflict, the entire region must remain engaged to ensure stability in the region. In the next article, "China as a Cooperative Power," Xinbo Wu discusses how China perceives itself in relation to the other great powers and the region. With an explanation of the historical background China brings to the table, Wu argues that China is prepared and willing to enter into relationships in the region and with other great powers. It is up to the region and its response to the issues most critical to China-Taiwan, sovereignty, and admission to the World Trade Organization-that will heighten or diminish security in the region.

Finally, Mohamed Jawhar bin Hassan touches on an issue sensitive to every Asia-Pacific country, either directly or indirectly-"The South China Sea: Mitigating the Conflict Potential." Discussing, briefly, the history of the conflict, the interests of China, the United States, and Japan, he proposes possible scenarios which could cause conflict to erupt. He then goes on to address some strategies as to how the tripartite countries could approach the Spratly Islands issues in order to ensure stability in the area while working through the disagreements. Jawhar discusses other Asian-Pacific mechanisms and frameworks that also need to be attuned to the situation. He concludes by noting careful cultivation and preservation of the strategic environment by the countries with a vested interest in maintaining peace and prosperity in the region will lead to sustained peace and stability in the area.

Any discussion of the Asian-Pacific community and its stability must include a close look at economic aspects within the region. Part III begins with "Precision Economic Warfare: The Strategic Implications of Chinese and Japanese Industrial Policies" by Ronald A. Morse. He discusses the dramatic differences in industrial policy models, which includes defining economic policy, between the United States and Asia. Morse points out how Chinese leadership, utilizing the Japanese industrial policy model as a unifying element, may be able to deliver sustained economic growth while justifying delays in political democratization assuring China's strong economic positioning in the global economy. Alternatively, Japan has abandoned its previous model and has been willing to make the hard choices that will allow Japan to emerge on the global economic scene as an independent, focused actor with whom we must contend. Clearly, the United States is going to have to develop a more precise model if it desires to remain a serious economic actor in the Asian-Pacific region in the future. Next, Frank Ching, in "Economic Dimensions of Tripartite Relations," discusses the juxtaposition of the political and economic relations between and among the three countries. He shows how each bilateral relation is impacted by the other's bilateral relation, thereby increasing economic interdependence among them. He contends, absent political considerations which may weaken these relationships, they should provide a solid foundation for the development of the Asian-Pacific region. This thread-increasing stability within the region by increasingly engaging China-is continued by Akio Watanabe in "The Role of Multilateral Economic Organizations-" Device for Deep Engagement of China?" Through the deepening economic engagement of China in both regional and global mechanisms, China prospers. More importantly, China, Japan, and the United States will develop their skills, abilities, and understanding of each other and the need to cooperate as a regional and global powers within these organizations. This is significant, because this working relationship and mutual awareness may make future difficult decisions possible.

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