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Conscious that trust deficit is a principal concern in East Asia, the book attempts to suggest ways to enhance confidence in certain key areas such as disputes in East and South China Seas, maritime CBMs, impact of economic interdependence on security, and issues concerning identity and values in Asian thinking.




1. Introduction

A case to build confidence in East Asia is more urgent now than ever before because of the kinds of momentous changes the region is witnessing in its security and economic profiles, and the anxieties that have been generated as a consequence of these. It is obvious that the narrative on today’s East Asia presents a paradox, given the fact that while the region is swept by unprecedented economic dynamism, it is also teetering since a range of grave politico-security issues engulfing virtually the entire region are threatening to undermine its stability It is these seemingly contradictory trends that need to be reconciled for the sake of regional peace and uninterrupted development. A close scrutiny of political issues dogging the region clearly reveals that a lack of trust among neighbors is a major root cause.

G. V. C. Naidu, Kazuhiko Togo

East Asia: Geopolitical and Historical Context


2. In the Crossfire: Vietnam and Great Powers in the Emerging East Asian Security Architecture

The main objective of this chapter is to analyze Vietnam’s difficult position in the growing competition between China and the US. The biggest concern of Vietnam, like other Southeast Asian countries, is to be caught between big power struggles. Based on historical lessons it has learned from the Vietnam War, as it could successfully engage both the Soviet Union and China and managed to secure support from both of them notwithstanding serious problems between them, the chapter concludes that Vietnam should not take sides in the big power competition but maintain a balance between them while strengthening itself.

Pham Quang Minh

3. The Paradox of Economic Integration and Territorial Rivalry in the South China Sea

The contradiction between maturing economic interdependence and security dilemmas and political conflicts is a reflection of East Asian complexity. Despite relative stability since 2002 China-ASEAN DOC, there is a scramble for control of the islands in the South China Sea. In addition to UN laws, historical aspects need to also be considered in managing and resolving the disputes. International arbitration is one of the options, however, its success rests on all parties to abide by the verdict. Any judgment by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will be non-binding, but if the verdict is unfavorable to China, it will merely achieve the goal of undermining China’s moral position. China’s Nine-Dash Line is an “archipelago ownership line” for securing the claimed territories.

Liu Ming

4. Managing Wider National Identity Gaps in East Asia Without Idealism

Confidence building starts not with idealism, but with existing national identity trends and geopolitical divisions. Previous restraints are gone. In a more charged atmosphere, US leadership must take account of identity gaps between nations. This starts with comparisons of attitudes toward regionalism and China’s rise in Southeast and Northeast Asia. Extended deterrence is the first requirement for confidence building. Transparency in military actions and intentions is another. Strengthening ASEAN and refocusing on a trilateral community of the United States, Japan, and South Korea have promising potential. These steps can accompany more outreach to China, as long as progress is repeatedly tested by clear-headed analysis.

Gilbert Rozman

5. Beyond Power, Interests and Identity: In Search of “Asian Thinking” to Build Trust in East Asia

East Asian maritime conflicts can be resolved provided the status quo power is ready for talks, and the claiming power abstain from using force. Unfortunately both in the East China Sea and South China Sea, that does not seem to be always the case. Rather nationalistic emotions closely linked with greater recognition of identity are on the rise. An analysis of rising nationalism and of identity under Xi Jinping and Abe Shinzo therefore is required. But, since neither Xi nor Abe is able to offer a direction which satisfies domestic aspiration and international harmony, the chapter endeavors to find clues in the governance of ancient China. The rediscovery of the ancient Chinese Saint rulers’ governance by virtue is juxtaposed in embryonic form to the study of Confucianism in today’s China and highlights the ideas of Japan’s early Meiji period to assess their relevance to current issues.

Kazuhiko Togo

Maritime Security: Crisis Management and Acceptable Solution


6. The Maritime Security Environment in East Asia: The Need for Strengthening Maritime Regimes, Greater Cooperation, and Dialogues

As East Asia shifts its focus to the maritime domain, existing regional maritime institutions, cooperation, and dialogues are insufficient and must be revamped to meet numerous traditional and non-traditional security challenges. This chapter emphasizes the need to build confidence in East Asia, mapping out maritime confidence-building measures (MCBMs), arguing for maritime cooperation through various means. It further examines the creation of multilateral maritime regimes such as dialogues and/or MCBMs. The principal argument of the chapter is that there is a severe shortage of maritime regimes, cooperation, and dialogues in East Asia and hence a lot more needs to be done in order to ameliorate the maritime security challenges in both the traditional and non-traditional sectors.

Tran Viet Thai, G. V. C. Naidu

7. Three Complementary, Simultaneous Approaches to Maritime Security in the East China Sea: International Law, Crisis Management, and Dialogue

The various maritime and airspace military incidents with the potential to escalate into military conflicts that have occurred in and near the East China Sea demonstrate the security threat as well as the serious need for counteractive measures in the region. This chapter discusses these incidents and then introduces and recommends the simultaneous implementation of three complementary approaches to resolving the East China Sea disputes, particularly the Senkaku islands conflict, drawing from experiences in dealing with other territorial disputes: establishing a common understanding of international law; taking preventive measures including confidence-building measures against military collisions; and holding bilateral or multilateral dialogues and negotiations.

Seigo Iwamoto, Kazuhiko Togo

8. Toward an Acceptable Solution to the East Sea Dispute

The failure of past solutions to international conflicts is rooted in the inequilibrium of power. Aware of the danger of power abuse, this chapter proposes a set of conditions necessary for the negotiation for a lasting and peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the East Sea, such as equality of negotiators, mutual respect, mutual trust, righteousness, and benevolence. China’s claims based on history are untenable and a solution based on a legally-binding Code of Conduct is prudent. Further, the 5-point proposal by President Ma Ying-jeou of the Republic of China (Taiwan) for peaceful resolution of disputes in East Asia deserve greater attention.

Tran Van Doan

Interdependence: Effect and Limitation


9. Can Economic Interdependence and Cooperation Mitigate Security Concerns in East Asia?

Rapidly growing economic interdependence is a significant factor in East Asian security. Aided by regional free trade agreements and multilateral frameworks, East Asian interdependence is now qualitatively different, with FDI playing a critical role even as the region enmeshes itself in the production value chain. Hence, a conflict seems unlikely because of high costs. The causal relationship between domestic stability and economic development, between growing prosperity and democracy, and democracy and peace are evident. Undoubtedly, a major deterrent for China in undertaking military adventures is its critical economic ties with the rest of the region. Since East Asia is still grappling for a stable order, it is necessary to create and strengthen robust region-wide institutions while building a regional balance of power.

G. V. C. Naidu

10. Antagonism Despite Interdependency: Whither China-Japan Relations?

China and South Korea are trapped in an “Asia’s Paradox” (antagonism despite interdependency) with Japan. The power transition in East Asia, territorial disputes and competing narratives of history have made a genuine reconciliation among these countries very difficult. If top political leaders are unable or unwilling to seek a rapprochement with their neighbors, then civil society (NGOs, scholars, and journalists) in East Asia must continue to nurture people-to-people friendship and understanding, prepare the groundwork of better bottom-up, grassroots ties, and patiently await a new dawn when more conciliatory statesmen appear.

Lam Peng Er

11. Conclusion

The one thing that conies across quite starkly from the foregoing chapters is that, notwithstanding the astounding economic progress East Asia has made, in general, confidence is something that is in short supply. It is due to a combination of several factors such as changing great power relations, intensified contest over the sovereignty of disputed islands, and the lack of a security architecture that could keep regional peace and stability Nor are there effective multilateral mechanisms at the regional and/or sub-regional level, which can promote transparency in defense policies and help in building trust. In much of the discourse on East Asia, invariably the focus tends to be on the role of great powers, more specifically China and its phenomenal rise and the likely implications thereof especially because great power relations have often been fraught with tensions although they seem to be by and large stable at present. Thus, great power relations, while not necessarily on the verge of a collision course, their on and off rivalry and cooperation are creating tensions.

G. V. C. Naidu, Kazuhiko Togo


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