Australia and Regional Cooperation in Northeast Asia: From Hegemony to a Multilateral Security Mechanism?

Recommended Citation

"Australia and Regional Cooperation in Northeast Asia: From Hegemony to a Multilateral Security Mechanism?", APSNet Policy Forum, May 17, 2007,


  1. Introduction
  2. Essay – Australia and Regional Cooperation in Northeast Asia: From Hegemony to a Multilateral Security Mechanism?
  3. Nautilus invites your response


Peter Van Ness of the Australian National University notes that Australia will never want to choose between China and the United States. Yet the contrasting approaches of the US and China to security in the post Cold war era are stark. Now, argues Van Ness,

“even the defenders of US hegemony acknowledge that American hegemony can no longer be sustained by unilateralist designs.”

Paradoxically “the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons presents the best opportunity yet to build new security institutions in East Asia.”

Australia, Van Ness concludes,

“would not directly participate in the new Northeast Asian institution, but would nonetheless enjoy the public goods generated by that initiative in security cooperation. The opportunity may only be temporary, so it is urgent to undertake the task.”

Essay – Australia and Regional Cooperation in Northeast Asia: From Hegemony to a Multilateral Security Mechanism?

The United States and China are without doubt the two most important states in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia has good relations with both and is eager to improve those relationships. But the relationship between China and the US is changing, and Australia, like the other small and middle powers in the region, will have to adapt. American hegemony in East Asia is no longer so easily accepted, especially in its Bush Doctrine unilateralist form, and a myriad of proposals for multilateral cooperation have emerged as possible alternative arrangements. As American hegemony declines, the two most likely futures for the region are either a multilateral security mechanism or a new Cold War between the US and China which would bring pressure on all of the other countries in the region, including Australia, to choose sides. None of those countries want to have to choose between the two great powers. This situation provides a special opportunity for the various governments in the region to work together to design and implement arrangements for an unprecedented regional cooperation in Northeast Asia. The opportunity may only be temporary, so it is urgent to undertake the task.

This paper is divided into five parts. The first is a brief description of Prime Minister Howard’s policy, so eloquently symbolized by his invitation to both President Hu Jintao and President George W. Bush to address the Australian Parliament within two days of each other in October 2003. The second section is an analysis of the Bush Doctrine and China’s response. Third, I analyze the major changes in relative power between the US and China, and spell out some of the implications. The fourth section examines the Six Party Talks on the DPRK’s nuclear programs and discusses the opportunity to transform the SPT structure into a new multilateral security institution for the region. And, finally, part five analyzes how our thinking about international relations (especially the theoretical differences between realism and cooperative-security) will tend to shape the likelihood of either confrontation or cooperation among countries in the future.

  1. John Howard’s Policy toward the United States and China

    Australia’s reliance on its security ties with the US superpower is well known. Australian soldiers have fought alongside American forces in every major conflict since World War II: the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and now in Afghanistan and Iraq. Australia is seen by the US as one of America’s closest and most reliable allies. Military cooperation between the two countries after World War II was formalized in the 1952 ANZUS Treaty (along with New Zealand), and the Treaty was first officially invoked by Australia in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Trade and investment ties with the US have also been vital to Australia’s economic success.

    After Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong reached an accommodation in 1972 to end the Sino-American Cold War confrontation, capitalist Australia established formal diplomatic relations with communist China. Political differences initially made contacts wary, but China’s market reforms and the “open policy” begun in 1978 provided opportunities for closer ties. In recent years, trade relations between the two countries have become a dominant factor in increasing mutual cooperation. Australia’s export trade to China, its second most important export market, is rapidly increasing and has been largely comprised of primary products like coal, iron ore, wool, and copper. The Sino-Australian gas export deal of 2002, to sell 3 million tons of North-West Shelf gas to China a year over a 25-year period, was Australia’s largest export contract at that time.

    When in April of 2006, Australia concluded an additional agreement with China to export up to 20,000 metric tons of uranium to China, beginning in 2010, Prime Minister Howard commented “Of all the important relationships that Australia has with other countries, none has been more greatly transformed over the last 10 years than our relationship with China.” The PRC Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, who was also present at the ceremony said that Sino-Australian relations were at an all-time high: “There are no issues left over from history and there are no cultural matters standing in the way of our bilateral relations,” he remarked. [1] The two countries are currently negotiating a Free Trade Agreement. [2]

    To my mind, the event that best symbolized John Howard’s policy toward the United States and China was when, in October 2003, he invited the presidents of both countries, PRC President Hu Jintao and American President George W. Bush,

    to address the Australian Parliament, each within a couple of days of the other. [3] The message was clear: Australia wants to have good relations with both the People’s Republic of China and with the United States of America, and it never wants to be put in a situation where it would have to choose between the two. In this respect, Australia’s strategic posture is similar to that of most ASEAN countries. None of them wants to have to choose between China and the US.

    Yet, some in the Bush administration, most particularly Vice President Cheney who recently visited the region, are eager to construct a more confrontational approach to China. Beginning with Bush’s July 2005 agreement to provide nuclear materials to India in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Washington has sought to encourage its friends and allies to build a geostrategic arc of containment to the south and east of China, comprised principally of Japan, Australia, and India. [4] Washington has encouraged closer cooperation among the three, nominally based on shared values of political democracy and free-market economics. A major step in this direction was the 13 March 2007 security agreement concluded between Australia and Japan. [5] This controversial agreement appeared to contradict the more even-handed Howard approach toward China and the US. One Australian critic commented: “by signing this pact we are not so much gaining a friend as making an enemy. No matter what anyone says, a closer relationship with Japan is a direct provocation to China. Rather than helping our own interests, we have effectively become a pawn serving others.” [6]

    More recently, Mr. Shyam Saran, the principal Indian negotiator of the nuclear agreement with the US, visited Australia to win Australia’s support in the Nuclear Suppliers Group to agree to the exception for India that the US deal with India requires. But while he was in Canberra, Saran also discussed the possibility of Australian sales of uranium to India, and perhaps even some sort of Indo-Australian security agreement like Australia’s with Japan. These kinds of links among the Bush administration’s friends in Asia look more like a strategic choosing-up-sides than steps toward construction of the multilateral security cooperation in the region that so many countries would like to see happen. [7]

  2. The Bush Doctrine and China’s Response [8]

    For more than 30 years, beginning with the Nixon-Mao accord of 1972, Washington and Beijing have cooperated with each other off and on, but always with very different agendas in mind. Lampton captures the essence of the relationship in the Chinese aphorism: tong chuang yi meng(“same bed, different dreams”). [9] After 9/11, Beijing sided with the United States in Bush’s “war on terror,” but virtually every aspect of the Bush Doctrine (e.g., unilateralism, preemption, and missile defense) raised serious security problems for China.

    When George W. Bush was inaugurated in January 2001, right-wing opinion in the US had it that China was the most likely challenger to US hegemony and that the “China threat” should be a priority for the new administration. President Bush chose to identify certain “rogue states” as the main danger to the United States in his early speeches on national security, but many analysts inferred that the main, unnamed rogue that the administration had in mind was China. When the classified Nuclear Posture Review of 2002 was leaked to the press, it identified China as one of seven possible targets for nuclear attack by the United States, and a PRC-Taiwan confrontation as one of three most likely scenarios in which nuclear weapons might be used. [10] The administration’s commitment to both missile defense and preventive war raised additional Chinese concerns. [11]

    Since then, official Chinese reaction to the Bush Doctrine has gone through three distinct stages:avoidancecollaboration, and strategic response. At first, Chinese policy seemed designed to avoid confrontation with the new president. As the administration set about putting its foreign and security policy in place, Beijing could see that many of the Bush initiatives clashed with China’s interests. But rather than confront the new president directly, the Chinese leadership appeared determined to stand aside from the hard-line bulldozer, apparently hoping that Washington’s enthusiasm for missile defense and preventive action against “rogue states” would wane over time.

    However, September 11, 2001, changed all that. The terrorist attacks on the United States provided China with an opportunity to find common ground with the new administration – to collaborate with Washington in the new “war on terror.” This second stage, collaboration, began almost immediately after the attacks, when then President Jiang Zemin telephoned Bush to offer his sympathy and support. In effect, Beijing’s message was: We have terrorists, too (among China’s 10 million Muslims), and we want to work with you in the struggle against terrorism. But when it came to invading Iraq, China joined France and Russia in the United Nations Security Council in opposition. China clearly opposed the invasion. Moreover, China was unwilling to join in other US undertakings, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative, the multilateral effort to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery systems.

    Meanwhile, Beijing began to implement a strategic response to the Bush Doctrine. In this third stage, the focus has been on Asia. The core of the Chinese alternative has been a cooperative security response to Bush’s unilateralist, preventive war strategy. In response to Bush’s determination to reshape the world by force, China proposed to build cooperation among different groupings of states to create new international institutions for achieving solutions to common problems.

    For Beijing, these initiatives were unprecedented. From dynastic times to the present, China had adopted a largely realist view of the world, and, like the United States, it had preferred a bilateral approach to foreign relations. Moreover, neither in its dynastic past nor in its communist present had China been any more benevolent toward its neighbors, or more hesitant to use military force than most major powers. [12] For China now to adopt a multilateral, cooperative-security design was something new and important.

    Building on earlier multilateral initiatives from the mid-1990s, the Chinese leadership has fashioned a comprehensive alternative strategic response to the Bush Doctrine. Some called this “China’s new diplomacy,” [13] but it is much more than that. Beijing followed the establishment of “ASEAN + 3” (yearly meetings between the ten member countries of ASEAN with China, Japan, and South Korea) with the establishment of “ASEAN + 1” (the ASEAN countries and China alone); China also took the lead in creating the first multilateral institution in Central Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, [14] and normalized relations with its former adversary, India. Chinese diplomats worked to demonstrate to its neighbors that both economic and strategic security could be based on a new design: cooperation for mutual benefit among potential adversaries rather than the building of military alliances against a perceived common threat.

    In October 2003, China signed the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (the first non-ASEAN country to do so), and negotiated a “strategic partnership for peace and prosperity” with the ten ASEAN member countries. The objective is to build an East Asian Community founded on economic, social, and security cooperation. Beijing also demonstrated its new approach by offering to host the six-party negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis.

    The key distinguishing features of the Bush administration’s and the Beijing’s very different approaches to dealing with the post-Cold War world, stated schematically are the following:

    Bush Doctrine
    1. absolute security for the United States
    2. unilateralism
    3. preventive war and regime change
    4. zero-sum strategic games
    5. disdain for international law, treaties, and institutions
    1. cooperative security (seeking to work with potential adversaries, rather than to make war against them)
    2. multilateral arrangements
    3. rules-based collective action, and conflict resolution diplomacy
    4. positive-sum strategic games, designed to achieve win-win outcomes
    5. international institution-building

    Beijing’s approach is by no means a pacifist design. [15] China is clearly seeking to modernize its military capability and giving serious thought to exactly what kind of military would be most effective in dealing with the dangers of today’s world, including a potential US threat. [16] The military specialist Paul Godwin notes that “a primary objective of the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is to exploit perceived US vulnerabilities.” [17] In that regard, for example, the PRC has made a careful study of so-called asymmetrical warfare and how weaker powers might successfully confront stronger powers. Moreover, it is by no means clear whether these initiatives are simply a tactical move to gain more time to increase its relative power, or a fundamental shift in the strategic paradigm of the CCP leadership. Nonetheless, Beijing’s cooperative-security overtures have won substantial support in Asia, and the many fledgling, multilateral designs now underway in East Asia provide hope for a less confrontational and more cooperative future.

  3. China’s Rise and Washington’s Decline

    The emerging power of China-be it “peaceful rise” or “China threat”-has been analyzed repeatedly by experts, but to date little has been concluded about America’s precipitous relative decline, both in its hard and so-called “soft” power. The policy failures and disastrous initiatives of the George W. Bush administration have yet to be tallied up strategically. More important for Asia is the need to investigate the critically significant juncture between the two patterns: China’s rise and the U.S. decline. That shift in relative power, no matter how difficult it is to measure in material terms, has begun to reshape strategic relations around the world, and especially in East Asia. It is the major strategic transformative event of our time.

    While Beijing has been preoccupied with trying to cool down its burgeoning economy, continually growing at the astonishing rate of some 9 percent a year, the United States appears stretched to the breaking point to meet its global commitments as the world’s policeman. [18] Paul Kennedy warned long ago about the problem of what he called “imperial overstretch,” when a state’s geopolitical ambitions exceed its material capabilities to sustain such ambitions. [19] For example, in early 2001 when Bush first took office, the Congressional Budget Office projected a federal budget surplus of $5 trillion over the next ten years; but following what The Economist magazine has characterized as Bush’s “binge of tax-cutting and spending,” economists are now projecting instead a $5 trillion budget deficit. [20] Meanwhile, the burden of US military commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq, where tours of duty have been extended to keep sufficient troops on the ground, appears to preclude any new “pre-emptive” assaults on additional countries, like Iran or Syria. [21] The Democratic Party’s control of both houses of the US Congress, after the 2006 election, would seem to assure that some limits will be placed on future Bush adventures, although hard-liners in the administration may still be pressing for options like an Israeli military strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities.

    Loss of legitimacy is one important price that the United States will have to pay for the disastrous Bush policies. It is ironic that the President and his Vice President, perhaps the two most powerful men in the world, have only a limited understanding of power, principally material power and its high-tech “revolution-in-military-affairs” applications. What they fail to understand are the vital cultural and moral dimensions of power, how authority is won and lost, and what motivates individuals to risk (or to sacrifice) their lives for a cause they believe in. Bush’s neoconservatives are convinced that their cause is just, but they fail to see how violations of America’s own principles (kidnapping suspected terrorists off the streets, torturing prisoners, and holding hundreds of people at Guantanamo Bay for years without trial in blatant violation of habeus corpus) [22] undermine the legitimacy of their “war on terror,” and erode claims that the United States might be held up as a model to other countries. This precipitous decline in American “soft power” has drastically weakened the US position in the global struggle for “hearts and minds.”

    Obviously, China is not without its own problems. A society of 1.3 billion people ruled by a Communist Party that insists on maintaining a monopoly of political power while trying to manage an increasingly open market economy is never going to be short of problems. Corruption, growing income inequality, and environmental devastation lead the list. Moreover, Beijing’s new cooperative-security strategy has yet to be tested. How does it fit with China’s determined global search, despite the political cost, for access to vital energy resources, which includes building friendly ties with some of the most tyrannical regimes in the world (e.g., Sudan, Burma, and Zimbabwe)? How well will Beijing’s commitment to cooperative security hold up when disputes with neighbors over territory or political differences reemerge? And will it also apply to cross-straits relations with Taiwan?

    Yet when compared with Bush’s record of making war to achieve peace in Iraq, the Chinese response has substantial appeal, especially among the ASEAN countries where cooperative security ideas have long been popular. [23]

  4. The Six Party Talks and the Possibility of a Northeast Asian Security Mechanism

    Northeast Asia is one of the most volatile regions in the world, and the border between North and South Korea is the most militarized border, the source of continuing tension and crises since the truce that ended the Korean War in 1953. The current crisis, begun with the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly to Pyongyang in October 2002 and charges by the United States that the DPRK was developing a second nuclear weapons program based on uranium enrichment in addition to the plutonium program halted by the Agreed Framework of 1994, has lead to series of meetings by four major powers (the US, China, Russia, and Japan) with both North and South Korea, the so-called Six Party Talks. Meanwhile, the crisis deepened when the DPRK threw out the inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), resumed plutonium production, withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treay, launched missiles into the Sea of Japan, and finally tested its first nuclear device last October. [24]

    Paradoxically and strange as it may seem, this crisis is emerging as the best opportunity to date for the construction of a multilateral security institution in Northeast Asia. The idea is to extend the process of resolving the DPRK nuclear crisis in order to design and to implement a series of bilateral and multilateral agreements to assure the national security of both the DPRK and South Korea; to encourage their gradual, peaceful reconciliation and reunification; and to establish the strategic stability necessary for productive trade and investment. A key element would be energy cooperation focused on the exploitation of Russian resources and their transportation through the region to markets that would benefit all of the parties. [25]

    Perhaps the time has come for institution-building in Northeast Asia, where there are currently no multilateral ties linking the neighboring countries. [26] The objective would be to integrate the DPRK into a new regional security institution, whether or not North Korea is finally convinced to give up its nuclear weapons. At minimum, just a freeze on nuclear weapons by Pyongyang would be enough. On that basis, a security mechanism founded on a network of bilateral and multilateral security commitments might be sufficient to contain the possibility of NK sales of nuclear materials to terrorists and to undercut the logic of a possible nuclear arms race that might include Japan or South Korea – or even Taiwan. Over time, security assurances and material support to the DPRK might be enough to convince Kim Jong Il that he does not need a nuclear deterrent.

    To achieve an acceptable resolution to the North Korean nuclear crisis, much less to construct a new multilateral security institution, would be immensely difficult – given the need to satisfy all six parties in the negotiation. Moreover, any viable security agreement must be based on trust, and there is obviously very little trust between the two key parties, the US and the DPRK. However, one of the key elements in this kind of arrangement is to gain the trust of all parties in the process. A major advantage of a multilateral agreement like this, compared with a bilateral agreement, is that all of the parties have a stake in the commitments that have been made, so that if one party should fail to honor its commitments, all of the other five would have cause to pressure it to comply. A cooperative-security mechanism should be constructed on a web of both bilateral and multilateral agreements in such a way that all parties gain from the arrangement, and all would be deprived if any member should fail to meet its commitments. In that way, trust in the process might gradually increase the bilateral trust enjoyed by its members.

  5. Realism or Cooperative Security?

    When George W. Bush was inaugurated president in January 2001, the structure of strategic relations in Northeast Asia was usually understood by American analysts as a balance of power system, or by some as a “strategic triangle” among the United States, China, and Japan. But the fact of overwhelming American power plus the acquiescence of the other major powers in East Asia to the US leadership role confirmed the reality of American hegemony. [27] Moreover, when crises emerged in the region, it was the United States that stepped in to respond – for example, confronting North Korea in 1994 over its nuclear weapons programs; committing two aircraft-carrier battle groups in 1996 to oppose the PRC “missile exercise” threat of force against Taiwan; and brokering the Indonesian acceptance of an Australian-led military intervention in East Timor in 1999.

    Now, even the defenders of US hegemony, like Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye in their recent study on the US-Japan alliance (with the presumptuous subtitle “getting Asia right”), acknowledge that American hegemony in the region can no longer be sustained by Bush Doctrine unilateralist designs. American policy must change. They argue that “it is clear that a unipolar US management of Asia is not attainable, and its pursuit could prove counterproductive to adjusting the US role in the region to emerging realities.” [28] Their call for strengthening the US alliance with a more proactive Japan and Australia may have set the scene for the subsequent Australia-Japan security agreement. Washington’s nuclear agreement with India, and India’s enhanced contacts with both Tokyo and Canberra may be further steps in the creation of what some have called an “arc of freedom and prosperity” built on values shared among the US, Japan, Australia, and India. But to the Chinese it might look more like choosing sides. Armitage and Nye also talk about cooperation with China, but the potential for a realist strategic realignment in Asia is implicit in these kinds of proposals. [29] The key word is “trans-pacific” as contrasted with “pan-Asian.” The US is afraid of being left out of future designs for an East Asian community.

    The realist insistence that when national security is at issue, governments will inevitably think in terms of self-help and assume that threats will appear largely as zero-sum games appears anomalous in today’s world. For example, if the United States and the former Soviet Union had thought that way about their fear of nuclear war, they would never have agreed to stop nuclear testing or begin to control their nuclear arms race. Jolted by their realization after the Cuban Missile Crisis about how close they came to igniting a horrific nuclear conflagration, Washington and Moscow both decided that, despite their ideological and strategic differences, they had to work together to manage this common threat to their national security. Given the nature of the nuclear threat, working with one’s adversary, rather than conspiring against it appeared to be the right thing to do.

    Each of the most serious threats to the national security of nations today is quite different, and each requires a special strategic approach; but what is common to many of them, like the threat of nuclear war, is that they appear to require a cooperative solution. For example, how can any one country by itself deal with the obvious problems of global warming, climate change, and environmental degradation? [30] Similarly, with respect to economic policy, autarky is no longer an option for any industrialized country in our increasingly interdependent world. Public health is another. How can any one country alone adequately defend its citizens against pandemic diseases like bird flu? The search for energy security may lead to competition and even confrontation among states, but in many cases, governments have found that cooperation is more fruitful. [31] Defense against terrorism is yet another example. [32]

    ASEAN and the relations among its ten member-countries are founded on the concept of cooperative security. Often derided by realist scholars as “only a talking shop,” ASEAN’s undeniable achievement has been to make the likelihood of inter-state war among any of its members virtually unthinkable. [33] Australia and the other countries in the region share the concern of ASEAN in avoiding confrontation. No one wants a new Cold War in Asia, from which no country would benefit.

In my opinion, the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and the establishment of the Six Party Talks presents the best opportunity yet to build new security institutions in East Asia. The six-party arrangement includes, rather than excludes, the United States, but it would limit Washington’s hegemonic inclinations. The SPT provides for Japan an opportunity to play an enhanced strategic role as a “normal” major power, without the need to go nuclear. [34] Russia would gain easier access to East Asian capital and technology for the development of its energy resources and more reliable transportation routes to foreign markets. And North and South Korea would be enabled to undertake their mutual reconciliation and eventual reunification protected by a multilateral accommodation among all of Northeast Asia’s major powers. The US and China would maintain their institutional ties in the region (for the PRC, most importantly, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and ASEAN plus 3; and for the US, its bilateral security ties with Japan, ROK, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Australia), but in Northeast Asia, the most potentially volatile region in Asia, they would work together.

Australia would not directly participate in the new Northeast Asian institution, but, like ASEAN, it would benefit from the strategic stability and shared prosperity achieved by the new, multilateral cooperative-security consortium. The cooperative-security design in ASEAN has been built on a network of economic and political ties and strategic dialogue. Other countries have been brought into that network through trade (FTAs), security workshops, and codes of conduct. That network represents a method of achieving security quite distinct from the continued US reliance on Cold War-type bilateral alliances. If the Six Party Talks on Korea can now achieve as much as ASEAN already has for its member-states (i.e., to make interstate war among any of its members unthinkable), all countries in the region would benefit from the strategic stability and shared security that would result.

Although not an official member of the new Northeast Asian security mechanism, Australia would nonetheless enjoy the public goods generated by that initiative in security cooperation. In contrast to the dependence that relying on American hegemony can often require, including the possibility of being called upon as an ally to help the United States fight a war with China over Taiwan, security cooperation in East Asia can help to avoid a future of confrontation and conflict and help to assure the continued peace and prosperity of the region.

Information about the author

Peter Van Ness is a visiting fellow in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the ANU, and coordinator of the project on historical reconciliation and cooperative security. His most recent book isConfronting the Bush Doctrine: Critical Views from the Asia Pacific (RoutledgeCurzon, 2005), edited with Mel Gurtov.


End notes

[1] “China to Buy Australian Uranium”, BBC, April 3, 2006.

[2] Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Australia-China Free Trade Agreement Negotiations”.

[3] “President Bush Addresses Australian Parliament” October 22, 2003.

Hu Jintao’s speech to the Australian Parliament, “Constantly Increasing Common Ground”, October 24, 2003.

[4] This is the quadrulateral design or what the Japanese Foreign Minister Aso Taro has called an Arc of Freedom and Prosperity. See, for example, Vivek Pinto, “A Strategic Partnership Between Japan and India?”, January 11, 2007.

[5] Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Australia-Japan Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation”, March 13, 2007.

See, also: Desmond Ball, “Whither the Japan-Australia Security Relationship”, Austral Policy Forum 06-32A, 21 September 2006, Nautilus Institute at RMIT, and Richard Tanter, “The New Security Architecture: Binding Japan and Australia, Containing China”, Austral Policy Forum 07-07A, 15 March 2007, Nautilus Institute at RMIT.

[6] Nicholas Stuart, “A Pact with Japan Is Bound to Upset the Chinese,” Canberra Times, March 20, 2007, p. ll. See, also, Gregory Clark, “Australia’s Anti-China Pact,” The Japan Times, April 12, 2007.

[7] Alan Dupont, “Not the Time to Deal Out Beijing, The Australian, March 26,2007.

[8] For a more extended analysis, see Peter Van Ness, “China’s Response to the Bush Doctrine,” World Policy Journal, Winter 2004/05, pp. 38-47.

[9] David M. Lampton, Same Bed, Different Dreams: Managing US-China Relations, 1989-2000 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001).

[10] See Timothy Savage, “Letting the Genie Out of the Bottle: The Bush Nuclear Doctrine in Asia,” in Mel Gurtov and Peter Van Ness (eds.), Confronting the Bush Doctrine: Critical Views from the Asia-Pacific(New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005).

[11] Li Bin, “China: Weighing the Costs,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March/April 2004, pp. 21-23. Paul Goodwin argued that “assuring a reliable second-strike capability in the shadow of US ballistic missile defense programs is unquestionably China’s highest priority.” (Paul H. B. Godwin, “The PLA’s Leap into the 21st Century: Implications for the US,” Jamestown Foundation, China Brief, Vol. 4, No. 9, April 29, 2004).

[12] See, for example, Alastair Iain Johnston, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995); Allen S. Whiting, “The Use of Force in Foreign Policy by the People’s Republic of China,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, No. 402 (July 1972), pp. 55-65; and Allen S. Whiting, The Chinese Calculus of Deterrence: India and Indochina (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1975).

[13] Evan S. Medeiros and M. Taylor Fravel, “China’s New Diplomacy,” Foreign Affairs, November-December 2003, pp. 22-35.

[14] Valerie Niquet, “China and Central Asia,” China Perspectives, No. 67, September-October 2006, pp. 2-10.

[15] For a general assessment, see “Reaching for a Renaissance: A Special Report on China and Its Region,” The Economist, March 31, 2007.

[16] See David Shambaugh, Modernizing China’s Military: Progress, Problems, and Prospects (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).

[17] Godwin, “PLA’s Leap into the 21st Century”. One of the best sources for information on PRC security policy is China Security online, from the China Program of the World Security Institute in Washington, DC. They provide both an English and a Chinese version of their material, and discuss the most recent events, such as the Chinese anti-satellite weapon test in January of this year.

[18] See, for example, Benedict Carey, “Stress on Troops Adds to US Hurdles in Iraq,” The New York Times, May 6, 2007.

[19] Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York: Vintage Books, 1987), pp. 514-515.

[20] “Dangerous Gamble,” The Economist, July 17, 2004. Among the domestic costs of Bush in power is an extraordinary increase in income inequality in the United States. David Cay Johnston, “Income Gap is Widening, Data Shows,” The New York Times, March 29, 2007.

[21] Gordon Lubold, “Is US Army Bent to the Breaking Point?” The Christian Science Monitor, April 3, 2007; and Bryan Bender, “West Point Grads Exit Service at High Rate,” The Boston Globe, April 11, 2007. Moreover, the National Counterterrorism Center compiled figures for the annual US State Department Country Reports on Terrorism that show that the number of terrorist incidents in Iraq increased 91% last year, from 3468 in 2005 to 6630 in 2006. Glenn Kessler, “US Cites 91 Percent Rise In Terrorist Acts in Iraq,”, May 1, 2007.

[22] Karen J. Greenberg (ed.), The Torture Debate in America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Mark Danner, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror(New York: New York Review of Books, 2004); and Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel, The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

[23] Joshua Kurlantzick, “Beijing’s Big Push: As anti-Americanism grows, China is learning the value of good PR and Beating the United States at Its Own Game,” Newsweek International Edition, April 9, 2007. Kurlantzick has a book forthcoming on this topic: “Charm Offensive: How China’s Soft Power Is Transforming the World.”

[24] For some of the best commentary on the present state of the SPT negotiations, see: Jonathan D. Pollack, “North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program to 2015: Three Scenarios”, Asia Policy, Number 3 (January 2007); Gavan McCormack, “A Denuclearization Deal in Beijing: The Prospect of Ending the 20th Century in East Asia”, February 14, 2007; David Albright, “North Korea’s Alleged Large-Scale Enrichment Plant: Yet Another Questionable Extrapolation Based on Aluminum Tubes”, Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network Special Report, February 27, 2007, from; and Don Oberdorfer, “So Far, So Fast: What’s Really Behind the Bush Administration’s Course Reversal on North Korea and Can the Negotiations Succeed?” March 20, 2007.

Click to access AP3Pollack.pdf

See also the joint statement of September 19, 2005 from the fourth round of the SPT and the February 13, 2007 agreement.

[25] Peter Van Ness, “The North Korean Nuclear Crisis: Four-Plus-Two – An Idea Whose Time Has Come.”Asian Perspective, Vol. 27, No. 4, 2003, pp. 249-275.

[26] Lee Shin-Wha, “Construction of a Northeast Asian Community for Regional Security,” East Asian Review 19:1, Spring 2007, pp. 69-98.

[27] Peter Van Ness, “Hegemony, Not Anarchy: Why China and Japan Are Not Balancing US Unipolar Power,” International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2002), pp. 131-150.

[28] Richard L. Armitage and Joseph S. Nye, The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Getting Asia Right through 2020(Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies Report, February 2007), p. 14.

[29] See, also, Stanley Foundation, “Building an Open and Inclusive Regional Architecture for Asia,” Policy Dialogue Brief, November 2006. Their first recommendation is: “Build on US alliances with Japan, Korea, and Australia and the new partnership with India to set ambitious objectives for ‘principled’ multilateral cooperation in Asia and to ensure the development of an open and inclusive regional architecture.” p. 2.

[30] Bryan Bender, “Bill Ties Climate to National Security,” The Boston Globe, April 9, 2007.

[31] For example, Chosun Ilbo, “Foreign Minister Song Suggests Cooperation with China, Japan on Oil,” of April 4, 2007, reported that the ROK, the PRC and Japan will hold regular ministerial-level talks to discuss ways to jointly deal with political matters in Northeast Asia and energy issues such as oil imports from the Middle East. An official from the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that Foreign Minister Song Min-soon, PRC Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso will meet on Jeju Island on June 3. In a meeting with Aso, Song said the three countries should stop competing with each other at home and in other areas such as the Middle East and instead cooperate to further each other’s interests.

[32] Joseph S. Nye, “After Iraq, the US Can No Longer Turn Inward,” Canberra Times, March 15, 2007. Nye observes that on “issues outside the control of governments, including everything from climate change to pandemics to transnational terrorism, power is chaotically distributed, and it makes no sense at all to claim American hegemony. Yet it is [here] that we find most of the greatest challenges today. The only way to grapple with these problems is through cooperation with others, and that requires the soft power of attraction as well as the hard power of coercion. There is no simple military solution that will produce the outcomes we want.” p. 19.

[33] Amitav Acharys, Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the Problem of Regional Order (London and New York: Routledge, 2001).

[34] Richard Tanter, “With Eyes Wide Shut: Japan, Heisei Militarization, and the Bush Doctrine,” in Gurtov and Van Ness (eds.), Confronting the Bush Doctrine: Critical Views from the Asia-Pacific. See, also, Kenneth B. Pyle, Japan Rising: The Resurgence of Japanese Power and Purpose (Public Affairs, 2007); and Richard Katz and Peter Ennis, “How Able is Abe?” Foreign Affairs 86:2, March/April 2007, pp. 75-91.

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The Austral Peace and Security Network invites your responses to this essay. Please send responses to the editor, Jane Mullett: Responses will be considered for redistribution to the network only if they include the author’s name, affiliation, and explicit consent.

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