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Energy security is key to changing Northeast Asian landscape

Energy security is key to changing Northeast Asian landscape

Posted November. 19, 2013 06:03,   


At the Korea-Russia summit ended last Wednesday, President Park Geun-hye and her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin made a rough sketch of South Korea-North Korea-Russia cooperation on development of Far East Siberia and the cooperation on energy and Arctic passage of South Korea-Russia. The agreement shows response strategies of South Korea and Russia on a massive change faced by Northeast Asia.

Northeast Asia currently faces a logistics revolution that can largely affect the political situation and national competitiveness on a long term, and a potential result of a change in regional power hegemony.

The potential establishment of an Arctic route near Russia will bring about a revolutionary change both in logistics of South Korea-China-Japan, export powerhouses, and Russian energy`s entry into Northeast Asia. The change in energy security landscape is facilitating a change in supply and demand as well as military strategies. The recent move is attributable to the U.S., which is expected to change an offshore strategy centered on energy transport route by reducing gas imports from Middle East amid the expansion of shale gas production.

Against this backdrop, a permanent establishment of Arctic route is becoming visible and China`s warships are entering South Korea`s Eastern coast and Japan`s Tsugaru strait. Since the U.S. and Japan are in a position to prevent challenges of China`s navy forces, the two nations are moving their maritime defense lines to Asia`s northeast areas, or the Korean Peninsula and Japanese Islands. The U.S. and Australia`s tolerance and accord to Japan`s collective self-defense rights is linked with such a situation. China recently created a National Security Council at the third meeting of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

With the Arctic route becoming visible, there is possibility of energy integration between Russia (Far East and Sakhalin) and Northeast Asian countries, while the impact of the U.S.-originated shale gas revolution is facilitating a regional power landscape caused by China`s rise. These factors are demanding Northeast Asian countries to take a strategic and long-term response.

In the meantime, Japan was accepted its collective self-defense rights at the "2+2," a foreign minister strategic council of the U.S. and Japan. The country also launched a "2+2" strategic council with Russia to strengthen cooperation in energy security and regional situation. China is strengthening cooperation with Russia in overall sectors, while India recently became an observer country of the Arctic Council with South Korea, China, Japan and Singapore. India also launched its investment in Sakhalin. Japan`s investment in Far East natural liquefied gas and increasing interest on far east Russia by Singapore and India are also examples of competition.

Historically, the rise of energy and the change in supply conditions had a positive impact on a country only when combined virtuously. When the new energy source of coal had appeared, the U.K. utilized it in industrial terms first in the world, beating France and Germany and becoming the winner in industrial revolution.

After World War II, Germany could strengthen its competitiveness by receiving gas from Soviet Union through a pipeline economically and stably thanks to the conversion of conceptualization. Foreign security policy had backed up industrial policy. The ability to integrate a decisive policy and technology in a virtuous way is the most important for a country. South Korea, China and Japan are competing each other in this environment.

Currently, Northeast Asia does have a diplomatic power of putting forward 19th century force, but Northeast Asia in the 21st century does not tolerate such imperialism. Rather, the region demands virtuous combination of regional cooperation, technology (energy) and politics. The future of South Korea, China and Japan will be determined by the competence and ability of their administrations.