Discussion on the Situation of the Korean Peninsula
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Experts:
  • Yu Xiao

    Dean, professor, Northeast Asia Studies College of Jilin University

    Piao Ying’ai

    Professor, World Economic Studies Institute,Northeast Asia Studies College of Jilin University

  • Zhang Yuguo

    Professor, Northeast Asia Studies College of Jilin University

    Associate dean, International Politics Institute

    Cui Zhihong

    Associate professor, International Politics Institute ,Northeast Asia Studies College of Jilin University

  • Li Tianzi

    professor, Northeast Asian Studies College of Jilin University

    Associate dean, Institute of Regional Economics and Center of Sino-Russian Regional cooperation

As the key to the Northeast Asia strategic pattern, the Korean Peninsula issue has always been the focus of the international community. It not only concerns the peace and stability in the Northeast Asia, but also is closely related to peace and stability in the world. As a place where interests of big powers overlap, the Korean Peninsula experienced “tension-ease-tension” situation in 2016. With the estrangement of China-DPRK relations, the DPRK conducted nuclear test again and launched a satellite. Despite the advancement in China-South Korea relations, the deployment of the THAAD antimissile system in South Korea showed its tendency of allying with the US to contain China. In such context, on December 2, 2016, the CNKI International Publishing Center and the Northeast Asian Studies College, Jilin University jointly invited scholars of Northeast Asian studies and the editorial of outstanding academic journals to discuss such hot-spot issues as the Korean Peninsula situation, Northeast Asia situation and impact of the US presidential election, in order to raise public attention to the Korean Peninsula situation and to facilitate academic exchanges.

Participants of the conference included Professor PIAO Ying’ai, from the Global Economy Institute; Professor ZHANG Yuguo, deputy director of the Politics Institute; Associate Professor CUI Zhihong of the Politics Institute; Professor LI Tianzi, deputy director of the Regional Economic Research Institute, Professor of Editorship LI Xinwei, director of the Journal Editing Center of Northeast Asian Studies College; Associate Editor ZHAO Dongkui of the Journal of Jilin University; QIN Weibo, Managing Editor of the Journal of Northeast Normal University; Professor WU Zukun, Changbai Journal; and experts and scholars of Economic Vision, Population Journal, Northeast Asia Forum, and Contemporary Economy of Japan. Professor YU Xiao, Dean of the Northeast Asian Studies College, Jilin University hosted the conference jointly with XIAO Hong, the vice president and deputy editor-in-chief of China Academic Journals (CD) Electronic Publishing House.

XIAO Hong made an opening address and introduced the intention and progress of the “Front Views,” and pointed out that academic journals should not be satisfied with reporting academic achievements. In the process of academic journal internationalization, journals should convert its orientation to the whole world. Academic journals should lead directions for academic research, report forefront topics, and take the lead in scientific research. The international cutting-edge academic salon aimed at helping journals to achieve transformation and upgrading and finally become a first-class brand. Journals would be presented bilingually with enriched publishing technologies to shape a first-class platform for international academic exchange and communication. Professor YU hosted the discussion part. Professor PIAO from the Global Economy Institute under the Northeast Asian Studies College, Jilin University commented on the focus issues in the Korean Peninsula with the Northeast Asia situation taken into consideration: the signing of General Security of Military Information Agreement between Japan and South Korea had led to a series of problems. The scandal as “bestie intervention in politics” resulted in impeachment of the South Korea president. Once the political and economic situations deteriorated, there would be more unpredictable dynamic factors influencing the peace and development in the Korean Peninsula. The accused “illegal fishing” made by Chinese fishing boats escalated, and the changes occurred in Korean history textbooks in regard to marine cognition and standpoint deserved our attention.

Deputy Director ZHANG Yuguo of the Political Institute under the Northeast Asian Studies College, Jilin University gave four key phrases concerning the national strategies of Japan and Northeast Asian security, namely, stable lurk, diplomatic breakthrough, security militarization and Peninsula complex. Firstly, the stable lurk referred to the stable governance of the Shinzo Abe government, consistent strategies and objectives of Abe and unchanged standpoint of Japan to make constitutional amendments. The Abe government once focused on making breakthroughs in domestic laws, and from now on it would gradually take measures to amend its constitution. Secondly, many bilateral relations shall be taken into consideration while trying to make breakthroughs diplomatically, including the Japan-Russia relations “still in honeymoon”, “delicate” Japan-US relationship, “diversion” in the Japan-South Korean relationship, “face-changing” happened in Japan-DPRK relations and “inertia” in the China-Japan relations. As could be told from Japan’s actions in the current stage as a whole, Abe was not in a rush to repair the China-Japan relations. Fourthly, despite the fact that Japan had always been good at seizing the opportunity when encountering the Korean Peninsula complex, but the current unstable relations between the DPRK and South Korea also meant chaos and made it impossible for Japan to start. However, Japan would accelerate its adjustments to handle current situations and not let it guard down on the Korean Peninsula issue.

Professor ZHANG Yuguo also pointed out that the US president-elect Donald Trump had a fair chance to support Japan to hold a constitutional referendum, which might be brought forwards by Japan to 2017. Issues including how Japan would repair the Japan-US relationship and how it would gamble between China and the US while making full advantage of their conflicts and contradictions deserved more attention and follow-up.

Russia’s Far East Development Policy and Northeast Asia Cooperation

Professor LI Tianzi, deputy director of the Regional Economic Research Institute under the Northeast Asian Studies College of Jilin University summarized and analyzed hot-spot issues in Russia’s Far East development policies and Northeast Asia cooperation. First of all, in regard to the new direction of US-Russia relationship after Trump took office, the US might loosen its sanction on Russia, but ambiguous policies might bring about uncertain effects to the Korean Peninsula or even Europe, America and Asia as a whole. Secondly, as to Russia’s economic development and its impact on the Sino-Russia economic cooperation, since Trump was mainly supported by blue-collar workers, trade protectionism might rise in the future, which would have a great impact on the economy of both China and Russia. However, sanctions on Russia would decrease or even be canceled, which would be good news to Russia. Thirdly, the international oil price fluctuation would impact Russian economy. The industrial structure in Russia severely depended on resources, therefore the re-rising international oil price and production restriction policies taken by OPEC would help Russia to get rid of economic recession and also gave it chances to readjust its industrial structure. Fourthly, in terms of the Arctic strategies of Russia, in May 2016, Putin advised the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank to extend railway lines in Siberia, furthered the construction of Northern Sea Route and enhanced the support on building a Far East Economic Zone. Russia had been gradually intensifying its control over the Northern route and military facilities deployment. There might be opportunities for cooperation between China and Russia in taking advantage of the Northern route and mutual development of the Arctic Route. She also pointed out that considering Russia’s Eurasian strategic alliance, Russia proposed the matching of the Silk Road Economic Belt initiated by China and the Eurasian Economic Union. There would be some developments in directions including trade liberalization, and free trade zones. Under current situation, China might be in a greater need for the Central Asian market. In the near future, China would take advantage of the Eurasian Economic Union to accelerate its cooperation with Central Asian countries.

Russia’s Current Politics and Diplomacy Situation

Professor CUI Zhihong from the Institute of Politics under Northeast Asian Studies College, Jilin University, believed that the stable situation and diplomatic changes in Russia had a great impact on the Northeast Asia situation, and gave his explanations from the following aspects. According to Professor CUI, there were quite a few highlights in the practice of Russia’s diplomatic policies in 2016, especially on anti-terrorism issues in Syria. Quick and unyielding anti-terrorism actions and measures taken by Putin, contrasting well with wavering offshore anti-terrorism strategies of the USA, were a huge plus in Russia’s diplomacy. Russia had a strong complex for marine outfalls. For now the Syrian port of Tartus was the only port of Russia troops abroad. Russia stood firm in order to maintain its military presence overseas and control marine outfalls. In regards to eastward strategies, there was little progress in territorial negotiations between Russia and Japan. Those two countries had a strong will to expand their diplomatic interactions. Since Russia-Japan relations broke the ice after Shinzo Abe took office, and Russia had been in urgent need for capital for its far-east development, their economic and trade cooperation had achieved great progress. However, in territorial issues, Putin expressed that he was not in a rush concerning the negotiation on Japan-Russian territorial issues, which was as a matter of fact shelving the possibility of territorial negotiations. On security issues, a breakthrough had been made in the military alliance between Russia and China, and the China-Russia political and security mutual trust was enhanced, which might also be regarded as a measure taken by Russia to balance the increasingly reinforced US-Japan alliance and US-South Korea alliance. He also pointed out that there were three facts which could guarantee the basis of Russia’s political stability: firstly, the Russian nation was quite close and united. Secondly, the Putin government guided its people ideologically by revising its Public Assembly Law. Thirdly, the Putin government intervened local media with state-owned property to strengthen the control over press and media.

Preview on the Changes in Northeast Asia Situation after Trump took the office

Professor YU Xiao made the following explanations. Firstly, on one hand China and South Korea were strategic partners developed on the basis of economic cooperation, while on the other hand the substantial military alliance diplomatic relationship between South Korea and the US remained unchanged. South Korea took its sides during the game between China and the US caused a series of political and economic issues. Secondly, the DPRK would stay stabilized after Trump was in power as the DPRK government placed expectations on Trump, and it would try to seek communication with the US in a short time. Thirdly, there had been more competition than cooperation between China and the US in the past four years, with no pattern. Therefore chaos occurred in the East Asia, and the past principle of seeking common ground while reserving differences changed into increasingly sharp divergences. After Trump took office, although the Sino-US relations would enter a new phase of adjustment, policies of the US towards the Asia-Pacific region would not shrink, but might further intensify. The uncertainty of the Asia-Pacific situation would increase.

JTP's LIU Kang and JIN Ge contributed to this report.

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