Sub-themes of each fields
Sub-themes of each fields
How conflicting identity hinders political cooperation
50 years in retrospect, Northeast Asia has clearly achieved multidimensional cooperation. Korea, China and Japan, as geopolitically adjacent partners, came to cast active influences in each other’s politicoeconomic and cultural sectors. Indeed, when compared to the tense regional milieu during the Second World War and the Cold War, ASEAN+3 has reached an unprecedented multitude of communications such as inter-regional conferences and dialogues. However, on the other side of this blooming Asia stands the haunting debris of the Cold War world order, conjoined with the realist inertia bound by region-specific clashes of history and identity. Whereas the continents that had spawned the East-West divide are enjoying acceleratingly thicker interdependence, Northeast Asian regional politics is still constrained by primordially and externally originated suspicions and hostility. Such status quo, continues to hinder the CJK from broaching deeper political cooperation towards regional and global issues, instead leading to the problem most endemic to the region: Security Dilemma
The regional security dilemma manifests itself in domino-like militarization of domestic and interregional political behaviors. Japan passed a slew of security amendments to reinterpret its pacifist constituution, which was criticized by neighboring countries as a stride of remilitarization. China, likewise, boosted its military spending by 7.6 percent to 954.35 billion yuan (US$ 146.44 billion) in 2016, while modernizing the national military by developing high-tech defense hardware. The advancement of Chinese armaments, alongside its embroilment in territorial disputes with Japan, has stifled frictions with its neighbors. On the other hand, having to deal with an ever-present but anomalous threat of North Korean nuclear powers, South Korea and the United States have been discussing on the possible placement of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system and aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean, to which China has strongly opposed. As each interest is preoccupied about national security, the three countries are bound to (mis) calculate certain increase in the others’ material capabilities as imminent threats to themselves and the region as a whole. In short, Northeast Asian region is trapped in a vicious cycle of security dilemma.
The current security dilemma in Northeast Asia is not restricted to mere of power politics of relative material capabilities. National identity, an intangible currency of soft power, is another strategic factor, for it constructs and solidifies common interests, norms, and perceptions of ego and alters in the region. This, in turn, constrains and gives incentive to the nations’ dyadic and trilateral policymaking. The self-interested pursuits of arms buildup and territorial expansion are driven by each state’s conviction of what its identity ought to be in relation to the others’. The objection to its pursuit of target identity, then, is seen as a direct threat to state’s sovereignty. Since states in realpolitik are inclined to react sensitively to nationalist policy shifts in other states, whose nebulous intentions may only be tentatively predicted in the short time horizons, mutual mistrusts becomes a conflagration among neighboring nations. Northeast Asian countries, thus turmoil-stricken, have been materially and immaterially incapable of forging a sustainable regional order and identity preferring regional security and prosperity. Unlike Europe, the Northeast Asian countries have largely failed to resolve the existing clash of identity and fully institutionalize the body of multilateral cooperation to mark a transition to regional solidarity. Thus, the unresolved identity wars will only aggravate the endless cycle of suspicions, militarization, and further securitizations in response to the others’, unless the region broaches an initiative to develop a shared regional identity.
To recapitulate, the problems of conflicting identity, and security dilemma are persisting in Northeast Asia. In order for the blooming inter-regional interactions to promote deeper political cooperation and integrations on par with already developed transnational entities like the European Union, China, Japan, and Korea should transcend superficial and fragmented cooperation in pursuit of fundamental, long-lasting cooperation. If the Asian region can shed the remnants of past crisis to establish mutual trust and aim for the genuine cooperation, further development of the region would be possible. It is time for us to think about what specific endeavors three countries can make to solve the endemic problems of security dilemma and politically move forward to the ‘Blooming Asia.’
Global Perception of Northeast Asia
During the past century, Northeast Asian culture has been shared with increasing prevalence throughout the world. Martial arts films have attracted audiences in box offices all across the world, especially during its peak of popularity during the second half of the 20th century. The region’s animation series have captured the hearts of and stimulated the imaginative faculties of both children and adults. More recently, the consumption of Asian TV shows and music has been on the rise. Despite this, or perhaps to some extent as a result of this proliferation, the conventional image of East Asia is still limited in scope.
For instance, Asian women are often pigeonholed into the “Chinadoll” image in mainstream Western media. Intelligence of the individual, while generally a positive trait, is taken for granted at the expense of emotional depth. Some common aspects of Northeast Asia, like martial arts or ties to Confucianism, are exaggerated to absurd extents, effectively treating the region as culturally or ideologically monolithic. It is inevitable that someone with limited knowledge about a region form his or her views of it based on what they’ve been exposed to. The media plays a large part, as do the interactions between us and the outside world. Often, the latter reinforces the former. However, that it cannot be helped does not mean we should not contemplate its effects, as the existence of such views can lead to additional consequences in politics or business, causing significant reverberations beyond the scale of the individual.
At YNEAN 2016, we hope to achieve a fruitful discussion on this subject, focusing on three major questions:
1. How is Northeast Asia viewed outside the region?
2. How is Northeast Asia and its people affected by such views?
3. What efforts are called for, given such assessments?
Through the first question, we hope to analyze the images of Northeast Asia most prevalent outside the region. In today’s informationrich society there are many mediums through which our image is disseminated and perpetuated. There is more to the Northeast Asian image than the Sessue Hayakawas and the Bruce Lees. Even among ourselves, there is a rich cultural diversity how, if at all, does the global media illustrate this? Understanding both the mechanisms and the result of the phenomenon will make us more equipped to tackle the second inquiry.
Realizing how Northeast Asia is viewed by the world, what effect do such portrayals have? As individuals, we may be subject to both the negative stereotypes or the perhaps more benign model minority thesis. What about in higher organization levels? It is important to understand how such views affect dealings in diplomacy, business, academics, or other crucial engines of development and advancement.
Then, with a clearer comprehension of how we are viewed and how this affects us, where should we proceed? YNEAN 2016 focuses this August on the idea of Blooming Asia. The pastel petals of a flowering region may look breathtaking to us, who have an introspective view, to be full of promise and advancement. What can we do to share this perspective with other regions?
Asian values: impediment to overcome or solution for revival
The worldwide prolonged economic recession seems to show a recovery trend, but at an ever-slowing and an increasingly fragile pace. According to IMF, the baseline projection for global growth in 2016 is a modest 3.2 percent, a 0.2 percentage point downward revision compared to the January’s report. Alongside the numerical evidences, today’s economy is also experiencing problems such as the widening inequality of wealth, corporate corruption, gender discrimination at work etc.
The Northeast Asian economy is not an exception from these problems as it is going through the hardships that have surfaced and deepened through the society alongst dynamic economic developments as well. Cultural factors alone are insufficient in explaining economic phenomena because short-term factors, such as technological discoveries and unpredictable natural causes, are also responsible for fluctuations in growth rates. Nonetheless, cultural foundations of societies, which change gradually, are necessarily important.
Keeping the significances of cultural factors in mind, how can we make a new leap from the current challenged economy forward? There could be several viewpoints to approach this problem. The Economy session of YNEAN 2016 plan to see through the phenomena in regard to “Asian values”, the culture that all of us Northeast Asian countries share in common. We are going to diagnose the causes and results of today’s economic problems from the viewpoints of our common cultural background and explore the possible solutions which the “Asian values” can provide.
What are “Asian values”? The concept of Asian values emerged to explain the speedy growth of Asian countries in 1970s and 1980s by economists. The true nature of this idea has been controversial, depending on the circumstances and the perspectives taken. When it was first introduced, “Asian Values” indicated the Confucian values of the successful Asian countries that foster a work ethic, savings, and other practices conducive to economic growth.
However, the 1997 Asian economic crisis which germinated in Thailand functioned as a turning point in changing the view on Asian values. Some criticizers have pinpointed its causes to the inherent problems of the East Asian development model and the negative aspects of Confucian values that were used to explain the economic growth. In relation to this view on Asian values, how could we, as the agent of Asian culture, appraise this assessment? Can our economic problems be attributed wholly to Asian values, or is the problem in the way Northeast Asian countries embraced the constantly changing world economic trends?
Asian values constitute an essential foundation of society as common cultural factors in Northeast Asian countries. They have been, and can be, both beneficial and detrimental to the future of our economic development. Now, as we enter a world of constant change and connection, we face the inevitable question: how could Asian values be employed to encourage internal development and cooperation among countries participating in the Asian economy? Measures could be taken to further enhance the positive impacts of these values, as well as to overcome the negative. By exploring these possibilities, we believe that we can get an insight to possible solutions to the economic recession from a fresh perspective.