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JPI PeaceTalk
Subject JPI PeaceTalk with Leonard J. EDWARDS, Co-Chair, Korea-Canada Forum
Author JPI  (admin)
File
  20181016_161658.jpg  (237KByte)
2018-10-16 오후 4:24:03

 

 

Q1. Could you briefly introduce yourself to JejuTube viewers?




Well, my name is Leonard Edwards. I spent my career in the Canadian Foreign Service. I retired a few years ago. I was the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for Canada, my final assignment. But I've also been an ambassador here in Korea many, many years ago. I was ambassador in Japan. I have covered Asia-Pacific extensively in the course of my career. At one point in the 1990s, I was the APEC Senior Officer for Canada and we hosted the APEC summit in 1997 in Vancouver. So I'm quite familiar with Asia, but I've also worked in other parts of the world as well.

 

Q2. Could you briefly explain the idea of an interregional cooperation initiative?


You know, I think inter-regional being between regions of the world for instance. The one big example that is often cited for inter-regional cooperation is between European and the ASEAN group of countries, the ASEM and so on. But there are other examples, too. I like to think that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is an inter-regional agreement between North America, South America and Asia. So there are other examples, as well. Both are of a very general nature, but efforts that bring the countries of one region together with countries of another under the heading of two regional institutions work on peace and security but particularly on economy.  I think economic affairs have tended to be the major area of concentration for inter-regional cooperation.

 

Q3. Interregional cooperation, which is heavily dependent on economic cooperation, faces difficulties resulting from competition between the regional blocks and crisis of liberal internationalism. What should Northeast Asia do now to build an interregional cooperation initiative to ensure interregional cooperation in politics and security beyond economic field?

 

Well, I think you're absolutely right to underline the difficulty that interregional cooperation is facing. If anything, some of the strains and stresses that we encounter today, the questioning of international institutions, generally the failure of a number of countries, and right now one worries particularly about American administration policies towards interregional activity of one kind or another. These are putting a high price, I think, on the need for more effort on inter-regionalism. But I'm not optimistic in the sense that I think the efforts that will be required are higher or greater than we've had before.

 

The environment is simply, not especially positive but it doesn't mean we have to take steps where we can. And if you look at the different regions, you know, I'm not very positive about the North American region as a partner right now because of the strains present in the region now with the renegotiation of the NAFTA basically at the request of the Trump administration. We are finding generally that countries like Canada, Mexico are very preoccupied with regional cooperation that's been part of our makeup for several decades. So the kind of reach out for a regional cooperation is tough.

 

There's no question in my mind that Asia remains probably the best region for leadership now in promoting inter-regional cooperation. And I guess you could say within Asia, Northeast Asia and South Asia are two different regions even though we talk about the Indo-Pacific, Northeast Asia. So I think that if countries like Korea can promote inter-regional cooperation from Northeast Asia down into South Asia at a time of stress on inter-regionalism, this will stand as a positive example. So when the world returns to a better place for inter-regionalism, this initiative will stand out.

 

Q4. The confrontation between two major powers, the US and China, has aggravated regional peace and security. How do you evaluate the current status of the US-China relationship and its influence in Asia, in particular in terms of the evolving of China’s “Belt and Road Initiatives” and US-proposed “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy?

 

Well, you know, it's a very troublesome relationship right now. It has been for several years and I've always believed that this relationship will be sorted out between the two major powers, China and the United States over time. And it has led to increased tensions. The economic tensions have tended to be downplayed. The security tensions have been raised. But it's very worrisome now that the so-called trade war seems to be emerging between United States and China. I think it's a very unsettling feature and one which could overlap on the relationship generally that needs very, very careful management by the leaders in Beijing and Washington as they sort out this new strategic relationship that they need to work out.

 

The rest of us are bystanders. We are not going to help with that. That has to be worked out between the principal players, but what we can do is that we can ensure that through initiatives like interregional cooperation and so on. And dealing with small issues that larger problems such as security issues or economic issues, we make sure that the international playing field is absent, to the extent that we can affect them, and that it's as positive as possible so that the two great powers can work out their relationship over the longer term.

 

So in that light, it seems to me, therefore, going back to the question of regional cooperation, that pushing ahead with cooperation that tends to deal with economic irritants that helps deal with some of the security threats, particularly the new kind of threats that we find now movement of refugees, the piracy, natural disasters. All of the things that small points of tension in Asia-Pacific region, particularly where this relationship between China and America is going to be, I think, are largely resolved. If we can do that, Canada can do that, Korea can do that, working with our friends in the region. We have played a positive role in helping these two great powers come to an accommodation.

 

Q5. Building conditions for peace in the Korean peninsula have been in full swing since the inauguration of the Moon Jae-in administration. With North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics serving as the momentum for two Panmunjom inter-Korean Summits, North Korea-China Summit and US-North Korea Summit, the North has been pushing forward for negotiations with the US to exchange its denuclearization for regime security guarantee. Now appears to be a timely moment for the larger, more powerful neighbors – such as the US, China, Japan, and Russia - to put in a “concerted effort” in close coordination with South Korea in order to contribute to the denuclearization of North Korea and tension reduction on the Korean Peninsula. What do you think is the most important roles that they should play? What do you think is the most important roles that Canada should play?

 

Well, I think it's quite clear in the current state of the place since the Singapore summit that basically, there are two Korean players, and there are two major international players, the United States and China. And for the time being, the conversations between North Korea and Washington and between North Korea and Seoul. I think two parallel activities that need to proceed in sync. But China is definitely in the mix in terms of its relationship with North Korea. So I think those four players as the sort of key right now. You mentioned Russia, you mentioned Japan. They were part of the six party talks. They have a stake in peace in the region, the denuclearization of the peninsula so on. So they need to be consulted obviously. Japan particularly, I believe, is the important country that should be consulted. And eventually perhaps they can be brought in to the meeting tables, and so on. But right now I think it's a kind of where it needs to be.

 

As for Canada, you know we're a long way from the Korean peninsula but Canadian soldiers fought in the Korean War. 516 soldiers died defending South Korea from the tyranny of the North, the communist attacks. So we're deeply committed to South Korea, to the Republic of Korea, and we will give every possible support to Korean government going through this difficult time, but at the same time, apart from giving support, doing everything we can to persuade North Korea to denuclearize and completely denuclearize as the agreement in Singapore says.

 

There may be other things that we can do and we stand ready. I can't speak for the government, of course, I may be used to, but I don't anymore. We will do whatever we can to be helpful in that respect. You know, for instance, working with Seoul to help build bridges to North Koreans, standing by if needed to assist in anyway. I think that's the kind of help we can be, but we're not involved in these talks and I don't think there's any prospect of our needing to be involved. Players that must be there are there.

 

Q6. Please briefly explain your opinion about the future of regionalism.

 

Well, again I think it's under threat. It used to be, you know, that going back to three decades, we were all supporters of multilateral system, the international system. Particularly I was working on trade issues at the time and we believed that the World Trade Organization, as it became the GATT in those days, should be a single place where we do trade agreements and so forth. They needed to be multilateral and, you know, the most favored nation and all of the principles were set up for the GATT after the Second World War and we saw a lot of regional trading agreements spring up. At the time, there was a concern that this would undermine the multilateral system. I think in retrospect and here NAFTA was a major agreement that was completed outside the multilateral system although it was compliant with the rules of the GATT and now the WTO.

 

There was a feeling that somehow this was some undermining, but now I think there is a regional system that has, in fact, bolstered the multilateral system. And so, strong regionalism, providing it is consistent with the international principles that we've set for ourselves, is actually a strong building block for good institutions, good governance internationally by not only having a multilateral framework but also regional frameworks that are consistent with it. And I think right now we are seeing two problems. We're seeing the attack on what we have called the liberal international order which is the institution set up in Bretton Woods System and so on. We're seeing those threatened, we are seeing breakdown and even in countries that are benefited from it like Canada, like the United States and other places. Populism and political leaders that are now questioning some of the benefits that were brought with them, and that's affecting regionalism. I mean we see what I was describing what's happened in North America, the renegotiation of the NAFTA, the threatened tariffs by the Trump administration on automobiles in Canada and Mexico, and the action taken on steel and aluminum. It's very chaotic, and it's very, very troubling.

 

So I'm hopeful that regionalism can still be where it is strong, and I think it is strong here in Asia. Asia can still thrive and prosper and serve as an example of the kind of, you know, regional activities that are needed, approaches that are needed, to sustain our international structures. And we need them, you know, they have to be based on a value systems and so on, that are...that protect smaller countries...those without powers from the larger countries. That was the whole framework of international order that's been set up.

 

Of course, democracy is usually important. All countries these days are democratic so I think countries like Canada and Korea as champions of democratic systems, champions of the order that have been so important to us both in economic and security term. We need to work very hard together to make the changes in the international system that keep them relevant. And regionalism is one of the tools we can use, but it is tough these days.

 

Q7. How will multilateral talks such as the Jeju Forum contribute to promoting peace better? What direction do you think the Jeju Forum should take in the future?

 

Well, you know, … this conference this year, I think it's already doing a superb job. It's covering so many issues, that cut across the kinds of things that support peace, the irritants that undermine peace, and prosperity. I think if there is one area that...and it's a tricky one and that is to go back to the question you asked about the relationship between the United States and China. Can the Forum tackle a few items or a few areas that actually deal with the kinds of points of friction that divide the United States and China at a time when they are contending for power, the current hegemon and the rising one. And I think, you know, it goes back to your question about what we can do. But if we can engage in discussion which includes China, which includes United States representatives about some of the issues that trouble us, the rest of us, that we believe need to be regulated and sorted out between these two powers, I think, that could be helpful.

 

And since Korea sits right next to China, and we sit right next to the United States, I know that may be a tough idea for Koreans to take on, but I think it's absolutely essential that there's more talk, there's more discussion, more openness, more transparency among the rest of us who are going to live with the result of this contest between the United States and rising China.

 

Q8. Any last words to JejuTube viewers?


Why last words? Well, I think you've asked me so many questions and I don't have any last words. I would like to, you know, one thing I'd like to say is, I think the Jeju Forum is truly remarkable thing and...you know it's 13 years old now so it's moved into space that I think is absolutely essential. And I'm very grateful for the welcome I received here and I've enjoyed being here, and I've met a lot of new people even though I'm very familiar with Korea, have been ambassador here many years ago. So for me, it's truly interesting and a learning experience. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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