October’s East Asian Summit, held in Hanoi, Vietnam, offered hope of a peaceful integration of the rising Chinese hegemony into Southeast Asia’s governing community. Instead, “Beijing has taken a hard line toward Korea and cast Japan increasingly as a partner in U.S. hegemonic efforts to contain China”, according to University of Pennsylvania Professor Jacques deLisle. Professor deLisle also heads the Asia program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI).
Since their rise to power, nationally confident Chinese officials have been less willing to effectively collaborate with the U.S. and East Asian nations.
Although China is the largest Southeast Asian power, a successful multilateral security agreement depends on other nations, such as Japan, Taiwan, North and South Korea. Panelists at the FPRI conference last November noted that Japan is in ongoing efforts to support regional interests, but such efforts are increasingly tense due to their long support for universal and trans-pacific conventions.
In Taiwan, the question of regional security depends mostly on whether or not the status quo changes with their cross-Strait relations with China.
Panelists noted that China has engaged in territorial disputes with both Japan and Taiwan while, at the same time, pursuing bilateral agreements with both nations. Meanwhile, at the FPRI conference in Washington, D.C., Vincent Wang of the University of Richmond noted that relations between Taiwan and Washington have declined recently because of a passive U.S. policy.
For North Korea and South Korea, a hope for regional security can be positive at times, but has more setbacks than progress. First, the North Koreans sank South Korea’s naval ship, Cheonan, which was followed by the killing of two soldiers and two civilians on South Korea’s Yeonpyong Island. Besides the obvious tension from these events, signs of a possible regime collapse in North Korea’s Pyongyang have complicated the situation further.