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Article Released Thu-11th-August-2005 13:32 GMT
Contact: Timo Kivimäki Institution: NIAS -- Nordic Institute of Asian Studies
 The Security Situation in Asia: Changing Regional Security Structure? Timo Kivimäki & Jorgen Delman (eds). Report to the Danish Foreign Ministry, June. Copenhagen 2005.

The focus is on Asian security issues and opportunities for the European Union to enhance its role as an actor in relation to Asian security. The potential role of Denmark in this respect is also touched upon.

The main inter-state security challenges in Asia are the following:
 If we estimate the potential for war casualties in different imaginable wars, the possible nuclear wars in Korea or Taiwan or between India and Pakistan are probably the only imaginable wars in the near future in which casualties could be counted in millions or tens of millions.
 In the long run, the emergence of other possible conflicts with the same potential destructiveness depends largely on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The use of such weapons could be imagined both in the context of inter-state disputes, when weapons of mass destruction could be used by international ‘pariah’ states or rogue regimes such as that of North Korea, as well as in the context of terrorism.
 With or without weapons of mass destruction, terrorism could be a major security challenge in Asia. This challenge may not involve high impacts, unless terrorists could use weapons of mass destruction, but the high probability or near certainty that terrorism continues in Asia upgrades the seriousness of the threat and calls for inter-state interventions. Since Asia’s tourist areas threatened by terrorism, this challenge is relevant also to European interests and safety.

This report will approach these challenges from the perspective of various main actors in Asian Security:
 The key international player in Asia is the United States, who at the moment is the only genuinely global power in relation to Asian Security.
 The EU could play a more global role in Asia, but it would require that the EU would be able to state more clearly its position in the various issues central to Asian security, and that it would also be able to back up its position with resources and firm commitment.
 Since China is the main regional security actor in East Asia (together with Russia, which has, however, been ruled out of focus in this study), the regional power setting could be seen as a triangle, with the US, China and the EU at each corner, if Europe was to play a more international role in Asia. The analysis in this report shows that in this kind of triangular configuration, it would generally make sense for the European Union to watch out for situations where the United States and China could together outmaneuver Europe, or situations where either of the two would try to play EU and the other against each other. EU should build its independent relationships to both China and the United States and, for example, collaborate with the US on Asia in relation to human rights and democracy, and with Asia in relation to the US on the issue of global multilateralism and international democracy.
 Sub-regionally, Japan plays a very important role competing with China regarding the leadership within East Asian cooperation. This competition has played to the advantage of ASEAN as the provider of institutions of regional security cooperation. It has made it impossible for China to accept Japan-initiated institutionalization and for Japan to accept China-led institutions.
 The global implications of the dispute issues in the Korean peninsula have made it very difficult to define South Korea as a security actor. In relation to some issues, South Korea has been a competing regional power, trying to find space in the area dominated by China and Japan. At the same time, South Korea has played an important role with regard to such global issues as non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
 Finally, India, is a subregional hegemon in South Asia and a global power in issues relating to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Region-wide, it is a regional power competing for influence with China.

To play a constructive role in Asian security, Europe would need to find its comparative advantages, instead of trying to contribute to everything. On the basis of data on global inter-state conflicts for the past two hundred years,
 Europe has its clear comparative advantage in relation to Asia in resolving conflicts. This is why Europe should try to focus on the resolution of conflicts and tackling of difficult issues, as well as dealing with conflicting interpretations of sensitive periods of history.
 Europe has also been successful in transforming conflict structures by manipulating economic structures of interaction. This suggests that Europe should be active in the use of soft security measures and development cooperation in building peace in Asia.
 Furthermore, Europe, has recently managed to avoid inter-state security becoming an excuse for state repression. Therefore, Europe also has a comparative advantage, especially in relation to Asia, in the promotion of a human security agenda.
 At the same time, the same data on global inter-state conflicts for the past two hundred years imply that Europeans should respect Asian ways of preventing conflicts and managing them in order to minimise violence. In this, Asia has been more successful than Europe.

Furthermore, the EU is a new type of international actor, which attracts countries towards it, rather than in opposition to it. The EU does not threaten outsiders and it does not seek confrontation or balancing of power with other blocks. Outsiders rather consider to join the EU or to be linked with it. Combined with its considerable experience in conflict prevention and an outspoken preference for preventive ‘soft’ diplomacy, Europe possesses a comparative advantage in the area of international security, an advantage which may be used constructively in the development of bilateral relations between Europe and Asia.

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Download IconView/download the file 'ASIAN SECURITY REPORT Complete PDF.pdf.

Journal information

Publications of the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Funding information

Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Keywords associated to this article: Asian Security, Europe, ASEM,
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