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JPI PeaceTalk
Subject JPI PeaceTalk with David KANG, Professor of International Relations, Business, and East Asia Languages & Cultures, University of Southern California
Author JPI  (admin)
File
  20181030_173847.jpg  (259KByte)
2018-10-30 오후 5:47:06

 

 

 

 


Q1. Could you briefly introduce yourself to JejuTube viewers?

 

I'm David Kang, professor at the University of Southern California, and Director of Korean Studies Institute

 

Q2. 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?

 

I think all the countries has a role to play. South Korea is clearly the most important country, but in many ways, the actions that, say, China, particularly China and Russia and US can take, can move the process forward and I think what we're seeing with China right now is an attempt to move diplomacy forward which is what they were always asked for. So in many ways I think they're going to play a supporting role, but also a critical role. For example, in many ways what I think North Korea has tried to do is to follow their Byungjin Line. It's very clear. They want nuclear weapons and they also want economic development. So in many ways, China or South Korea find ways to interact economically with the North to help draw out the country, bring it into the international community and hopefully, affect the lives of North Korean citizens with more access to better markets and better goods.

 

Q3. Since the start of the Trump administration in the US and the Brexit referendum, it seems that global politics and economics are entering a new phase focused on ‘my country first.’ This contrasts from globalism and regionalism, which are largely based on ‘free trade,’ ‘rule of law,’ and ‘human rights.’ What do you think the future of the economic order in East Asia will be? Will Trump’s protectionism reinvigorate the American economy? Will Japan recover from its 'lost decade'? Will China cope with the economic downturn? Will Russia place a stronger emphasis on the far eastern region than before?

 

When we think about “my country first,” or trade protection, those are American moves. And those are American moves that probably are going to be more temporary than not. I mean Trump can do a lot of damage to the regional trading order but the thing we overlooked is that regional trade in East Asia has been driven by East Asian countries, not by the United States and not by China. We forget the trans-pacific partnership, TPP, was not a US containment policy. It was not a US policy. It originated in the countries in the region as a way to move forward even though the US wasn't interested in it at first, then became interested and now back to being not interested. RCEP, the Regional Community for Economic Partnership, is not a Chinese initiative. It is an ASEAN initiative. Both of those are regional trading orders and the thing we overlook is that East Asian countries are working together now, despite what the bigger countries are doing. I think that trend is only going to continue. So in many ways when we think about the future of regional trade, I think there could be big spats. I think there could be really damaging trade wars between the US and China. But fundamentally the countries in the region are moving forward and they've been moving forward and that's only going to continue.

 

Q4. Should we make something right now for the future, given the reality that populism, nationalism and America-first policy have appeared in in domestic politics as well as world politics? If this will pose a serious challenge to democratic values, what would be a reasonable strategy to overcome it?

 

You know, as political scientists, we spend so much time focused on institutions and the rules of the game. The older I get, the more I realized that those are actually secondary and what really matters are leaders and the values they espouse. That's why in some ways Trump is such a challenge both to the United States domestically and to the world order. He's the leader of the most powerful country in the world and he's espousing a number of values that are anti-free trade, as you pointed out very much about nationalism and populism. On the other hand, the role then for other countries is to espouse the values of free trade, human rights and liberalism. There is room here and it's actually even more important now that countries like South Korea or Japan or Europe are making very clear the values they stand for and that's what's going to happen. These things are being decided today.

 

Q5. Under the substantial progress of the denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula after the series of the summit meetings, many people assume that the multilateral security regime for East Asia is still an effective policy measure. What would be an effective way of constructing a multilateral security regime for Korea that includes super power countries such as the US, China, Japan, and Russia?

 

What people say about North Korea is they will never denuclearize because they will end up like Libya. But that's actually is not true because there is already a concert of powers in the region, meaning a whole bunch of great powers there. One reason that Libya fell apart: they didn't have any allies, they had no friends. We may not like it, but I cannot imagine that China lets North Korea just be cut up apart and disassembled. China is going to play a huge role and we saw that at the summit with the Chinese airplanes and the summits and everything else. I mean China is not going to let North Korea get just wiped off the faces of the earth. We already know that. So the point of a regional security concert of powers or something will be to codify that to make it clear that the US and China and probably Russia and Japan understand that the security of both South and North Korea is incredibly important and they all come to some more open or formal agreement that this is going to, … that they will watch out for each other's interests on the peninsula. In a lot of ways, we may not like it, but that's reality and in many ways that, I think, is the way forward.

 

Q6. 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?

 

Okay, with the US and China, clearly things could get worse. There might be a trade war. We might have some, you know, real economic impact, given the billions of dollars of tariffs that both countries are threatening with each other. My sense is that this is not going to be very long lasting because both sides are going to realize how painful this is. And, so there's a lot of talk and a lot of, you know, muscle flexing and chest thumping, but to really hold out for years or years of a certain trade policy strikes me as being unlikely.
For the United States, the Quad is never going to happen. That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard. Right, we're going to abandon all of East Asia, and we're going with Japan, Australia, India? Modi made very clear in Shangri-La Initiative. India was not interested in containing China. That's never going to happen. So, we're going to have Australia and Japan, the two most peripheral countries in the region, and abandon everything else to China? That's not going to happen, either. So the Quad is simply some idea floated and in many ways it's an admission that American policy over the last decades has been actually retreating despite Obama's attempt to pivot or return, or etc. to Asia. The reality is that Asian countries are running the region by themselves and the US is, for better or worse, increasingly less important. And the Quad - if we actually go with a Quad and we abandon Philippines and Vietnam and Malaysia and Indonesia and Korea and Taiwan to China? That's not happening. So I don't understand why we keep talking about Indo-Pacific. I really don't.
For the United States, the Quad is never going to happen. That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard. Right, we're going to abandon all of East Asia, and we're going with Japan, Australia, India? Modi made very clear in Shangri-La Initiative. India was not interested in containing China. That's never going to happen. So, we're going to have Australia and Japan, the two most peripheral countries in the region, and abandon everything else to China? That's not going to happen, either. So the Quad is simply some idea floated and in many ways it's an admission that American policy over the last decades has been actually retreating despite Obama's attempt to pivot or return, or etc. to Asia. The reality is that Asian countries are running the region by themselves and the US is, for better or worse, increasingly less important. And the Quad - if we actually go with a Quad and we abandon Philippines and Vietnam and Malaysia and Indonesia and Korea and Taiwan to China? That's not happening. So I don't understand why we keep talking about Indo-Pacific. I really don't. ​


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?


I think this type of things is exactly what Korea can do. I say this a lot, but it's worth repeating. Countries like Korea share some, but not all American priorities. They never will and they shouldn't. Their strength and their contribution to regional security is that the countries like Korea don't want to choose between China and the U.S., or Japan and China, or whatever. And they are in a position to try and more fully help all countries in the region understand the complexities and the dynamics of what's going on. And I think this kind of forum is really important for that, especially for the US and China and the bigger powers to understand how complex the region is, but also how much the region is moving along without either one of those superpowers really driving it.

 

Q8. Any last words to JejuTube viewers?


Okay, thank you for having me. I’ve really enjoyed it. Manse [Hooray].