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Trilateral summit should raise voice against N. Korea’s nuclear plan

Trilateral summit should raise voice against N. Korea’s nuclear plan

Posted October. 31, 2015 08:09,   


South Korean President Park Geun-hye will host Chinese Premier Li and Japanese Prime Minister Abe at the first trilateral summit in three and a half years on Sunday. The talks among the world’s two largest economies following the U.S., and another major economy in the region, South Korea, will not only draw a huge attention in the region, but will also be an event of global importance. Despite its significance, the summit is being held after a series of tug of wars on the specific date and topics. There is skepticism over what will be achieved other than the final reunion of the three leaders.

In fact, Sunday’s meeting is being organized mainly by the efforts from the South Korean government. The three-way talks were held annually from 2008 to 2012, but have been stalled as the tensions over territorial disputes between China and Japan escalated. The trilateral relationships became more complicated as frictions rose over historical issues between Korea and Japan. Korea called for Japan’s sincerity towards the comfort women issue, making the bilateral relationship further stringent, thereby affecting the security coordination with the U.S. At the ASEAN+3 Summit in Myanmar, President Park announced her hope to resume the trilateral talks to find a breakthrough for the clogged up relationship with Japan.

However, recently the China-U.S. relationship is tumbling due to conflicts over the freedom of navigation and territorial issues in the South China Sea. Japanese media also say that Abe will express concerns to Li on China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea. If any tensions regarding the issue are seen at the summit, it will be a hard one for Park to deal with. The meeting will be a diplomatic test bed for Korea, who is in a position to maintain trilateral cooperation with the U.S. and Japan, while enhancing economic and security collaboration with China at the same time.

The so called “Asia Paradox” of growing political and security struggles as well as growing economic dependency, fails everyone. Sunday’s dialogue should be a chance where the three leaders seek cooperation in areas with common interests such as nuclear safety, energy security, climate and environment, and disaster management. This will also be in line with the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative suggested by President Park.

Meanwhile, North Korea lately showed its new nuclear test movement. The three Northeast Asian leaders should also come up with a joint-declaration that includes firm denouncement of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The three countries must jointly respond to North Korea’s provocations and closely discuss the challenges facing the region by regularizing the talks. There is no multilateral cooperative mechanism in Northeast Asia to mitigate conflicts, while the region account for 20 percent of the global economy. True prosperity and peace will remain distant if the three countries refuse cooperation.