SHANGHAI, CHINA — 29-30 MAY 1999

* Overview

* Participants

* Agenda

* Papers

Project Workshops

Workshop Discussions

The following summaries of the discussions of each session of the workshop describe the dialogue that took place in general terms. Although individuals made opening remarks in each session, the summaries below emphasize the key points raised during the subsequent discussions. In order to encourage candid presentation of viewpoints, all opinions expressed at the workshop were “off the record.” Therefore, the following summaries include no specific comments, quotations, or attributions, and do not identify either the names or national identities of specific speakers.

Session 1 — Perspectives on Current Events
Session 2 — China-Japan-US Relations
Session 3 — Theatre Missile Defense and Arms Control
Session 4 — Korea and Regional Security in Northeast Asia
Session 5 — Proliferation, Disarmament, & the South Asian Nuclear Tests
Session 6 — Controlling Proliferation
Session 7 — Prospects for Nuclear Reductions
Session 8 — Overview of Long-term Security 



Session 1 — Perspectives on Current Events

Discussions focused on the repercussions of the key events in the region in the past year, including the bombing by NATO forces of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, the release of the Cox Report in the US House of Representatives, the promulgation of the new US-Japan guidelines for security cooperation, and the Japanese decision to participate in theatre missile defense research with the United States in the wake of the DPRK’s missile test on August 31, 1998. Discussions considered the implications of these events for relationships among the United States, the PRC, and Japan.

Discussion of the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy focused on the credibility of US claims that the bombing was accidental and the validity of PRC charges that the bombing was deliberate. The point was raised that the embassy bombing, the Cox report and related recent US actions contradict the idea of a US-PRC “strategic partnership.” Some suggested that the timing and content of the Cox report indicate it was released to distract attention from the embassy bombing as well as further harm US-PRC relations. There was then discussion of the different branches of the US government and the policy contentions currently taking place in Washington.

Discussion of elements of the US-Japan relationship centered around how much US-Japan security cooperation is in reaction to security concerns in Korea and Taiwan. The point was made that recent trends in US-Japan security cooperation are primarily in response to developments in Korea, especially the potential development of nuclear weapons by the DPRK. The point was raised that Taiwan is absolutely a part of China, that relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are purely domestic, that any US military support for Taiwan is an interference in Chinese internal affairs, and that US-Japan security cooperation should not include Japan’s assistance to such US interference.

Discussions also considered current issues in arms control and disarmament, including initiatives to promote de-targeting of nuclear weapons, consummate the CTBT and FMCT, establish negative security assurances in the region and perhaps create a Northeast Asian nuclear weapons free zone. In response to questions, PRC nuclear weapons targeting and use policy was described as originating in the need to counter threats from the Soviet Union, and as currently being no-first-use of nuclear weapons in any circumstance and no use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons armed states. Subsequent discussion considered whether Japan can trust PRC no-first-use pledges, and the circumstances under which the PRC might use nuclear weapons against US bases in Japan. The point was made that PRC strategic missiles require ninety minutes to be fueled and (according to some sources) may not even be stored with the warheads mounted, meaning that the targeting issue is irrelevant.

Some of this discussion considered PRC attitudes toward the general issues of nuclear testing and fissile material production, as well as the CTBT and the FMCT specifically. The point was raised that continued US development and deployment of missile defenses make it very difficult for the PRC to agree to the FMCT. The idea was raised that the PRC might consider privately promising the United States to cut off fissile material production in exchange for a US promise not to develop a national missile defense.

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Session 2 — China-Japan-US Relations

Discussion focused on several specific facets of relationships among China, Japan, and the United States. It was noted that there is now dialog but no binding multilateral security arrangements among these countries. The point was made that these three countries will be the most important in Northeast Asia in the next century, and therefore that the three countries must overcome difficulties to managing these relationships.

Particular attention was paid to the regional relevance of NATO justifications for its intervention in Kosovo, and related questions about the relevance of the US-Japan defense cooperation guidelines to contingencies in Taiwan. The point was made that the NATO intervention in Kosovo raises fundamental questions about when the defense of human rights can supercede respect for international sovereignty, and that the intervention may represent US promotion of a new international norm favoring greater scope for intervention. The point was made that such promotion of this norm represents US value hegemony. Subsequent discussion considered what such a norm would signify, whether it would be justified, and how it would interact with the value of non-intervention shared by Asian countries.

The point was raised that the US has treated Kosovo differently than Chechnya and Kashmir, and that from the US perspective the new norm may only apply in Europe. Other situations in which such a norm might apply, including ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, were noted. The point was made that if the Kosovo intervention ends unsuccessfully, it could mute support for similar interventions in Asia as well as Europe. Considerable discussion surrounded such implications of the intervention in Kosovo for US approaches to similar issues in East Asia. Considerations of contingencies in Taiwan were at the center of this discussion. The point was made that, even if the Kosovo crisis were to end successfully, the United States has suffered political damage in East Asia even beyond the direct backlash from the Chinese embassy bombing. Hence, the Kosovo intervention will have implications for the US-Japan alliance.

These points led to related discussion focused on whether the new US-Japan defense cooperation guidelines entail possible Japanese participation in any US military action regarding Taiwan. The point was made that the reference in the guidelines to out-of-area operations refers to potential emerging threats, and would not apply to Taiwan unless new events created threats to Japan. The point was made that any interference by Japan or the United States would interfere in Chinese internal affairs and endanger the important principle of international sovereignty. The point was made that, from Japan’s point of view, whether the guidelines apply to Taiwan depends on the situation. In particular, although Japan recognizes that issues between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan are purely domestic, interference with free passage through the Taiwan Straits would have international implications and effects on the interests of neighboring countries that would justify their attention. The point was made that if relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan remain peaceful, it is absolutely unlikely that Japan would become involved in those relations.

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Session 3 — Theatre Missile Defense and Arms Control

Discussion focused entirely on the regional implications of Japanese participation in US research and development of theater missile defense (TMD) in East Asia. Discussion included comments describing the history of US-Japan TMD cooperation and comments addressing the whether or not TMD development would promote US and Japanese security interests.

The point was made that US-Japan TMD cooperation dates to 1991 and has gradually increased in intensity since. Several comments suggested that support for this cooperation received a considerable boost in Japan following the DPRK missile test in August 1998; the point was made that this cooperation is still limited only to research. Several comments addressed the importance for these debates of the still unproven effectiveness of many TMD systems, although the point was also made that TMD initiatives have near-term political as well as longer-term strategic implications. The discussion addressed the likely consequences, both intended and unintended, of an eventual TMD deployment by the United States and Japan in East Asia, and what countermeasures the PRC might adopt. This cycle of actions and reactions was described as a “chicken and egg” problem, meaning that the original initiation of the cycle is difficult to identify.

The point was raised that Japan’s interest in TMD responds to principally to a perceived threat from the DPRK, rather than concerns about the PRC. However, the point was also raised that the DPRK is not a real threat, and that therefore TMD is an attempt by the United States to extend its own authority and to enhance Japanese military power. The question was raised whether Japan is concerned over PRC missile capabilities, and if Japan would continue cooperation with the United States on TMD in the absence of a missile threat from the DPRK. This question led to discussion of how the United States views Japanese participation in TMD research as a litmus test for its commitment to the US-Japan alliance. The point was raised that Japanese withdrawal of cooperation would raise questions in the United States whether Japan intended to develop an independent deterrent and its own nuclear weapons. The point was made that in the absence of a DPRK threat, some cooperation would likely continue but Japanese participation in “upper tier” TMD deployment would be less likely.

The possibility was raised of the United States and Japan offering to include the PRC in TMD research. The point was raised that, even if such an offer were made, the PRC would be unlikely to accept it, because the PRC knows that its missiles are its only real means to deter Taiwanese independence, and a regional TMD system protecting Taiwan would undermine this means deterrence even if the PRC participated in that TMD system.

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Session 4 — Korea and Regional Security in Northeast Asia

The discussion centered around the importance, volatility, and dangers of tensions on the Korean peninsula, and the implications for security in the region. The discussion considered the current economic and food crisis in the DPRK, the future of the DPRK regime, and the need to navigate the current situation with great delicacy. The observation was offered that the current situation in the DPRK is worse than that faced by Japan following World War II. The extent to which the DPRK regime is today fragile and verging on collapse was discussed. Other questions discussed included whether the current US policy of engagement with the DPRK is merely appeasement, and what the United States ought to do if engagement fails.

The strategic implications for US policy of DPRK nuclear capabilities were discussed. The point was raised that if the DPRK is now a nuclear-armed power (as some now suspect) it can deter a US attack upon itself, and so the United States has no choice except engagement. However, it was noted that the United States was fully prepared to attack the DPRK in 1994 despite its possible possession of nuclear weapons, and that the United States today maintains extensive conventional counterproliferation capabilities along with a myriad of contingency plans for use against the DPRK. The point was made that therefore the United States may not be deterred by the limited nuclear capabilities the DPRK may possess.

The upcoming DPRK policy recommendations by US special envoy William Perry were discussed. The point was made that Perry’s recent visit to the DPRK represents a turning point, and that the key is whether the DPRK will accept the comprehensive proposal Perry is now preparing. The point was also made that Japan, surprised and concerned by the DPRK August 1998 missile test, is not taking a leading role in this initiative. The PRC was urged to take a greater role in helping bring about greater DPRK cooperation.

The suggestion was made that greater inclusion of Japan and Russia in multilateral talks on Korean issues would be useful, and that these countries should join the PRC and the United States in preparing for a possible DPRK collapse. The question of the extent of PRC knowledge of and influence over policymaking in the DPRK was raised and discussed.

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Session 5 — Proliferation, Disarmament, & the South Asian Nuclear Tests

The discussion considered the implications of the South Asian nuclear tests for the PRC, the reactions of the PRC, Japan, and the United States, and the consequential prospects for the CTBT. Several comments considered how progress on implementing the CTBT, as well as moving forward in the US-Russia START process and other disarmament initiatives, were negatively impacted by the nuclear tests and have not recovered.

The implications for the NPT were also considered. The point was made that there is now no hope that India and Pakistan will join the NPT in its current form. The point was raised that the real significance of the nuclear tests is not their direct impact but their likely subsequent consequences, including future actions by China and India and especially reactions by states in the Middle East. The dangers of recent Indian and Pakistani missile tests and military clashes in Kashmir were noted and discussed.

The point was raised that many in India reject Japanese objections to the tests on grounds that Japan is protected by the US “nuclear umbrella” and therefore not entitled to criticize Indian acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability for national defense. Japan’s reactions to the tests were discussed.

The point was raised that US policy in the wake of the tests is contradictory: on the one hand, the US is working with India to prevent if from developing a capability beyond minimum deterrence, which tacitly accepts it nuclear status; while on the other hand the US is simultaneously working with the PRC to deny the legitimacy of India’s nuclear status and to achieve a rollback of its capabilities.

It was also noted that, although the PRC does not accept the Indian actions, it is allowing unofficial discussions with India on confidence building measures. The observation was offered that many believe PRC policy toward India in the wake of the South Asian nuclear tests is now conflicted, with some maintaining that the tests were not significant and that India still has very far to go before the PRC will be challenged, while others warn that India now poses a significant new threat to PRC interests.

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Session 6 — Controlling Proliferation

Discussion addressed the nonproliferation policies of both Japan and the PRC. The point was made that nonproliferation is not so much an end in itself, but a means to the achievement of a safer world.

Regarding Japan, much of the discussion focused on export controls and the conflict of economic and security imperatives, highlighted by the problem of the growing civil-military convergence and controls over “dual-use” technologies. The question was raised as to why Japan applies discriminatory standards to exports sensitive technologies. The point was made that Japan focuses on “end-user” controls because blocking export of all technologies with military applications imposes too great an economic cost. Thus, Japan is reluctant to export sensitive technologies to any state whose own export controls cannot insure that the technologies will not be passed on to “rogue” states.

Regarding the PRC, the point was raised that proliferation is a key concern, but that the PRC is also concerned that states receive equal treatment and that nonproliferation does not merely preserve the dominance of certain states. The question was raised as to why, despite the PRC’s positive nonproliferation policies, it is reluctant to join such nonproliferation regimes as the NSG, the Australia Group, and the MTCR. The point was made that each of these regimes has certain specific conditions that the PRC finds unacceptable. The discriminatory nature of the MTCR in particular was discussed. Other discussion focused on progress the PRC is making in achieving actual implementation of its export control policies, and the point was raised that the PRC recognizes that international confidence in this implementation will help increase its legal exports.

The issue of Taiwan’s nuclear industries received some attention. The point was raised that the PRC is concerned about proliferation in Taiwan, and that the United States and the PRC share an interest in discouraging Taiwan from reprocessing plutonium. The point was also made that US transfer of TMD technologies to Taiwan would violate the MTCR.

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Session 7 — Prospects for Nuclear Reductions

Discussion focused on the concept of a limited nuclear weapons free zone (NFZ) in Northeast Asia, and the difference among various proposals to implement this concept. Both the positive and negative aspects of the concept were considered, and the specific proposals vetted by senior panels on the subject were discussed. Some discussion focused on the meaning of “limited” and the scope of the NFZ idea. The point was raised that, although many of the specific proposals have significant obstacles to implementation, the NFZ idea merits discussion because it represents a distinct alternative to the status quo and hence encourages development of new ideas to meet security challenges in the region.

Questions were raised as to both Japan’s and China’s positions on the NFZ idea. The point was made that China has resisted the concept in part because some proposals would restrict its existing nuclear status, and therefore impinge on its sovereignty, without similarly affecting non-nuclear states included in the NFZ. The point was made that the Japanese government has been virtually silent on the idea due mainly to its concern that taking it seriously would impinge on its relations with the United States.

Some discussion considered whether deployment of TMD in East Asia would facilitate or obstruct creation of a limited nuclear weapons free zone in the region. The point was raised that a modest TMD might support a NFZ; however, the point was also raised that TMD signifies an increased US willingness to use nuclear weapons first, which contradicts the NFZ concept.

The relationships of the NFZ concept to negative security assurances and to deterrence of conventional attack were also discussed. The point was raised that negative security assurances by the United States to the DPRK, as envisioned in the Agreed Framework, contradict the US policy to use nuclear weapons if it deems necessary in response to an attack on Japan. The point was also raised that these two positions would not contradict if the US specified that it would only respond with nuclear weapons if the attack involved nuclear weapons.

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Session 8 — Overview of Long-term Security ProspectsThe participants offered their opinions as to their greatest hopes and greatest concerns about the security prospects in the East Asia region in the next ten years (see the following table)In subsequent discussion, it was noted that the strongest hopes were for greater cooperation among the states in the region, while the strongest concerns involved specific problems of Korea and Taiwan. The point was raised that there is hope that new cooperative mechanisms might help prevent conflict over Korea and Taiwan. Another point raised was that often cooperative processes are built precisely in efforts to cooperate to resolve specific problems. Many observed that if the most important specific problems could be resolved, the prospects for improving cooperation in the next decade are good.
Participant’s Views of Long-term Security Prospects

  • US-China-Japan cooperation
  • Peaceful Korean unification
  • US-PRC-Japan stability
  • Economic growth
  • 20 years of improvement continue; more cooperation; CBMs and reciprocity
  • Cooperative regional security framework
  • Peace framework across Taiwan Straits, leading to reunification
  • US-Japan-PRC cooperation and accommodation
  • Expanded effective security management; innovative international politics
  • Multilateral arms control negotiations with results
  • Innovative solution to Korean situation
  • Trust, confidence, and then friendship, step-by-step
  • Reunification of Taiwan and mainland China.
  • Stable regional security through Great Power Cooperation
  • Taiwan / mainland China reunification
  • PRC’s neighbors trustful
  • PRC economic growth aids stability
  • Mechanism for East Asian peace

  • War in Korea
  • US Aggressiveness
  • Japan develops nuclear weapons
  • US develops TMD, especially in Taiwan
  • Economic decline
  • Increasing mistrust
  • US-PRC co-hegemony; Japan isolation
  • New nuclear-armed states in the region
  • US-Japan versus PRC antagonism
  • Return to old style international politics
  • Slow negotiations on nuclear issues
  • Conflict in Korea; future in general
  • Taiwan Straits
  • Korean conflict
  • Vacuum in international order leads to new hegemony
  • Independence of Taiwan
  • New cold war in East Asia
  • Nuclear Free Zone will allow continued US role
  • More nuclear armed states in region
  • DPRK nuclear development, with environmental consequences
  • Japan militarization
  • Internationalization of Taiwan issue
  • Nuclear testing competition
  • International terrorism

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