War or Peace? Asia-Pacific region in horizon of year 2013

This map attempts to illustrate only the territorial waters
and Exclusive Economic Zones of selected nation-states
of eastern Asia (© map in thepublic domain)

The past year of 2012 was marked, in Asia-Pacific region, by repetitive demonstrations of diverse forces performed, in one side, by China, emergent new superpower of which the neighbors take more and more fear, even Lee Kuan Yew, former advisor of Chinese decision makers, said recently that Asia needs more than never US military presence reinforced in the region for containing the“ hegemony ” coming from one of the oldest empires in the world; in other side, by Japan, India, Vietnam and Philippines, etc..The tension around Senkaku Diaoyu Island between China and Japan, instead of being reduced, goes higher and higher in the beginning of the Year of Snake, particularly with the closer and closer confrontation of military or quasi military aircrafts, military or quasi military ships between China, Japan and United States. Needless to remind the arms race in the region since several years with main competitors as China, Japan, India, Vietnam, Philippines, two Korea and Taiwan.

One conflict can masque many others. The sovereignty claimed both by Japan and South Korea about Tokto Takeshima Island has opposed the two neighbors traditionally in good relationship because they are all allied with United States. The dispute around the Huangyan Scarborough Shoal Island between China and Philippines was one of the major events happened last year in the region. And the constant conflict between Vietnam and China around Paracels and Spratley Islands shows that no solution could be found in near future years to put end to this issue. What is most unthinkable is the third nuclear essay of North Korea despite of international community's warning, including that from Peking government. Last but not the least, the India, another regional emergent superpower but clearly in competition with her neighbor of the North. China has just taken control of Pakistan's maritime port city, Gwadar, and this operation is considered as an immediate threat by India. New Deli is now growing her arsenal of nuclear weapons, especially her ballistic missiles which can cover all Chinese cities and her fleet of submarines and of aircraft carriers. Further more, she is accelerating the deployment of her very ambitious space arm system. We have to remind also that she is in permanent territorial conflict with China and the problem of Tibet, of which the government in exile is always in DharmsÄla, is another topic which empoisons the relationship between India and her neighbor in other side of Himalaya Mountain.

Chinese propaganda poster showing the Diaoyu/Senkaku archipelago with a Chinese flag raised upon it. Legend: 钩鱼岛全景 Diaoyu Islands' scenery. Photo taken in Xiamen, Fujian (© Wuyouyuan, WikiCommons License)

Chinese propaganda poster showing the Diaoyu/Senkaku archipelago
with a Chinese flag raised upon it.
Legend: 钩鱼岛全景 Diaoyu Islands' scenery.
Photo taken in Xiamen, Fujian
(© Wuyouyuan, WikiCommons license)
The nationalist far-right group Ganbare Nippon stages a Senkaku Islands protest (© WikiCommons license)

The nationalist far-right group Ganbare Nippon
stages a Senkaku Islands protest
WikiCommons license)

All seems to lead a question raised by some geopolitics observators : would Asia-Pacific region become, in horizon of 2013, a theater of a regional military conflict between China and one of her neighbor countries?

Of course the clouds are gathered over the region and the risks of an eventual conflict become bigger and bigger. But the configuration of the power games between different players is so complicate at this moment that we could compare the situation with another period, that of Fighting Kingdoms, in Chinese ancient history, between 500 to 200 before J-C., during which, the numerous geopolitical tensions always finished by annulling one another and the long term strategic priorities of different players overcame often the short term considerations of their “face ”complex. So, before going to a quick conclusion, we would better proceeding a closer analysis of the current situation of the region.

First of all, the major player that is United States and their relationship with China. The previous mandate of US president, Barack Obama was marked by the normalization of the bilateral relationship between Washington and Peking. In one side, economic exchanges between two countries continue to increase and the US bound detained by the China reached a new level up to January 2013, to 1264,5 billions of US$, with a net growth of 44,1 billions in the first month of the year, compared with the same period of 2012, according to US Financial Ministry, and the trend seems to be confirmed. Consequently, both Chinese and American governments share, despite of many others divergences, a main consensus that a healthy and pacified bilateral relation is of a huge benefice for two countries. In other side, Unites-States clearly come back to Asia Pacific region with a new deployment of their armed forces returned from Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan. A big paradox interpreted by Chinese eagles in army and in government as the latest version of the old containing strategy defined during the Cold War time. But this time, the enemy in the scope of the Pantagon is different. Yesterday it was called Soviet Union but that of today and of the future is named China, with her obvious emergence both in terms of economic power and in military one, considered as a major challenge of the new century for the unique superpower after the end of Cold War. It seems sure that on this topic the second mandate of Obama will always wear the mark of continuity of his first one perceived as a Fuzzy strategy game. That is why Hilary Clinton has declared, before leaving State Council, with non ambiguity, that United States would always remain behind Japan in any case of conflict and oppose to all tempt consisting to change unilaterally the Japanese administration right over the Senkaku Diaoyu Island. The message seems to be well received because China has voted, together with United-States, the Resolution N°2094 of Security Council of United Nations against North Korea after her third nuclear weapon essay. Another signal released from Peking, no less interesting for international problems specialists, is that Mister Yang Jiechi, former Chinese ambassador in Washington for years and former Minister of Ministry of Foreign Affaires, was promoted, during the last session of National Assembly of People's Representatives held in later March, as State Secretary in charge of diplomatic affaires in the new government under the leadership of Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. This shows, in some extent, that Peking is not yet ready to engage a serious conflict with Japan which will imply immediately a military intervention of her biggest political and commercial partner in other side of Pacific Ocean, aware enough of importance of her relationship in good terms with Washington. In private circumstances, some Chinese decision makers recognize that, though the American military presence reinforced in Asia Pacific region doesn't make pleasure to China, but actually, there is no another world wild power capable to take the place to keep peace and stability in this very unstable area, and to pay the bill that is enormous for this objective. Except the American taxpayers, who can offer the luxury pleasure to cover the huge but necessary budget? Anyway, the Chinese eagles continue to prepare their conventional and non conventional arsenal, in inner space or in outer space, in case of an eventual military conflict, direct or indirect, with United States. Two domains, very crucial, are privileged : one is to keep purchasing Russian aircrafts as S-35- a balance to the American F22 and F35 - and submarines, another is to develop an regular army in the field of internet, testing their capacity of attacking web sites of United States and western countries government, armies and strategic industries: an intensified war in a virtual space contrasted with the apparent peace in traditional one. At the same time, these eagles continue to provoke with their radical speech in regard of United States, but they only remain in the verbal level, as smart player of conventional war of nerves.

The following one is China as another major actor of the region, with her strong emergence which makes her neighbor countries afraid of, but also in a particular moment of transmission of power inside the country. President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang have just taken the control of the Chinese communist Party and of the central government with a new team, younger than the old one. A big but long political show, expected both by the local and outside spectators, has begun. Firstly, the leading team freshly built has to conquer legitimacy of succeeding to the precedent one to rule over a country with 1,3 billion of population without any election. The problem is the resource of such legitimacy looks like rare earth today in the vast country more and more difficult to control. But one of the resources is still available and proven to be very useful in the past years by Milosevic in former Yugoslavia and more recently by Putin in Russia up to now: the nationalism. The game needs an imminent and permanent enemy outside and it falls automatically in the very moment: Japan, and as a result, the Sino-Japanese dispute around Senkaku Diaoyu Island became harder and harder since last September. It is very curious to know why the Chinese authorities take suddenly such a radical position today, declaring ready to go to a war with Japan while they were always extremely ambiguous, prudent and even silent in the past three decades when taking position on sovereignty defending issue in regard of Japan as number of NGO of Taiwan, Hong Kong and sometimes of mainland tried to defy Japanese authorities by going to the Island with their own initiatives. Actions of NGO are alwayspeaceful, of course, but very aggressive as well in terms of mass media effect, for they are always well relayed by local journalists and each time they put Peking government in an embarrassed situation. In the years of 1990, Deng Xiaoping, the former Chinese leader said he preferred to wait for leaders of future generation of thetwo countries to bring solution to the problem of Senkaku Diaoyu Island, convinced that the leaders of his generation, in China as well as in Japan, have not enough political wisdom to settle it.

In fact, the radical speech of the new leading team is addressed much more to internal audience than to external one. Mao Zedong, leader of first generation of CCP, “grand helmsman”, had taken the power of the country thanks to the People's Liberation Army he led. He had not to prove his legitimacy because he had a strong belief in jungle law, as lot of Chinese emperors did in the history. Deng Xiaoping, leader of second generation and “small helmsman”, had neither the concern for he himself was one of the senior chiefs both of the Army and of the Party directly under Mao's leadership. Jiang Zeming, leader of the third generation, was appointed by some colleagues of Deng, and Hu Jintao, leader of fourth generation, was appointed directly by Deng himself. The legitimacy of none of the last two ones was contested inside of Party and of Army. While Xi Jinping's case is different, for his candidateship is fruit of numerous negotiations and compromises during the decision making process played inside of the black box. Many young lions, issued from red aristocrat family as he is, but more ambitious and cheeky, want to take his place by all means we can imagine. The case of Bo Xilai, author of a aborted coup d'Etat in 2012, was only one of the latest episodes revealed. So a nationalist campaign seemed to be inevitable, after the 18e National Congress of CCP held in last fall during which the new leader was officially appointed, to win the battle of legitimacy. In western countries, people are used to the opinion poll while such democrat regime's product, as many others, is considered as a dangerous drug and is to be excluded in China. But the risk of such a campaign is to control it at good moment to avoid to turn it into an endless auction game. The state of theart of it consists to stop it at relevant moment and at a relevant place and by a relevant person.

There are always crisis and opportunity (it is in this way that in Chinese, the word crisis is formed). This time, it is North Korea that comes to create a new crisis in the region with her third nuclear weapon essay, February 12th 2013, offering the best opportunity both to China, to Japan and to United States to suspend their divergences in favor of finding together a solution against the regional “trouble maker”. Don't forget that North Korea, totalitarian regime as well, needs permanent provocations addressed to international community to put his people behind the young and green leader Kim Jong-En, to divert people's attention toward outside issues instead of keeping close eyes on multiple internal crisis. It is the way she exists. But the last provocation was good to remind to Washington, Tokyo, Seoul and Peking that the imminent and most dangerous threat doesn't come from Senkaku Island or Toktot Island, both no man's land, but from Pyongyang. Despite the divergences in terms of strategic interests of ones and of others, the biggest common denominator still remains in peace and stability keeping in Asia Pacific region. Any action which could lead to an eventual military conflict among these major partners would compromise seriously not only their common interest but their particular ones as well. Such is the consensus not avowed by all these principal actors and it is the perspective of a nuclear threat from North Korea that brings down curiously the tension due to the increase of nationalism between China and Japan.

Secondly, China actually needs more than any country else and more than any moment else a peaceful environment for developing her economy in the specific context of world wild financial crisis which already impacted a lot the Chinese exportation, pillar of the world factory. Thirdly, Government of Peking needs also a sustainable economic growth in a hard time to be able to resolve a number of problems in priority, such as social injustice and inequality which continue to show their negative effect on society and lead every year to several hundred thousands of riots over the country. Fourthly, there are some other main issues to face to, such as the pollution, in a larger scale, of water, air and environment, and toxic food scandals which revolt more and more Chinese urban and rural population. Fifthly, one of the deep concerns of the government is that inter ethnic conflict is becoming a lasting headache problem. To bring solution to those problems in priority, only political reform, social reform and the reform of law system can help in short, middle and long term. But the new leading team is, as the previous ones, extremely afraid of the “side effect” of such reform that will go inevitably to the end of one party regime in the country. There is another delicate question raised openly by some sociologists, to which the answer still remains uncertain. In case of a war which would oppose China to Japan and to United States, should the young men at military service in Chinese army, all issued from single child family, and the majority of them come from poor family excluded from the economic miracle, be ready to offer their life to defend interests of rich and powerful social classes, represented as well by Party and government's officials, whose wives and children had already left the country for immigration, with all of their capital, in foreign countries considered as potential enemy, such as US, Japan, European countries, Canada, and so on? Consequently, an eventual war against Japan is unimaginable for the moment. And what is more is that Japan has invested a lot since more than thirty years in China, creating numerous employment in the country. This explains why it is very difficult for Chinese consumer to boycott the Japanese products, in response to political leader's nationalist speech which is more addressed to Chinese people than to Japanese people.

As for Japan, the new Prime Mister, Shinzo Abe, returned to the government several years after being defeated by the party in opposition, has also his own preoccupations. The first one is how to re-conquer the lost electorate of his party LDP. For doing that, he must elaborate and apply a long term strategy which is translated in terms of wearing an image of a hard and radical line vector who will no longer incline himself before any foreign country's pressure, especially the political pressure coming from China, with a speech more than never closer to that of extreme right parties.

It is in this very logic that Shinzo Abe has recently tried to review the relevance of Judgment of Tokyo after the Second World War, risking to provoke the outcry of United-States, of Korea and of China. And Shinzo Abe is an excellent provocateur and demagogue, without any taboo or complex. His nationalist and populist speech meets easily a large audience for, contrarily to the Germany, the war crime has never been paid off and the criminals of the war are always honored openly by number of politicians of the right side. There are many loams with fertility in the country for facilitating the growth of extreme right party especially during the period of economic crisis in which Japan has been plunged since more than ten years. The eco-system of Japanese politics demonstrates once more the fragility, the absence of maturity of the imported democracy system and difficulty for the development of a health civilian society as we can observe in European countries.

Another amazing phenomenon is the culture of the face, a specific Asian issue to which Japan, Korea and China are highly attached because they share the same fundamental values of the same civilization. For example, it is merely unthinkable that a Japanese politician of right party, could do the similar thing as Willy Brandt, Prime Minister of Germany, did on December 7th 1970, when falling to knees in front of the tomb of Polish victims killed by German Nazi. It is impossible to imagine, even in a political-fiction, a Japanese Prime Minister falling to knees in front of the “Memorial of Victims of Nanking Massacre” perpetrated on December 13th 1937. Several thousands years of the face culture explain why Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese people could hardly recognize their fault for such a behavior will be perceived as a weakness by public opinion and the consequence will be fatal for a politician's career. The speeches pronounced by Shinzo Abe, since he returned to the power, about Tokyo Judgment in regard of United States, about Senkaku Island in regard of China and about Tokto Island in regard of South Korea are logical results of such a Asian face culture. Psychologically speaking, to refuse to recognize the war crime and to claim for the victim image of two American atomic bombs exploded over Hiroshima and Nakasaki in summer 1945 reveal perfectly the collective unconsciousness of certain category of Japanese people. We are not surprised by the high score of support rate, up to 60%, from public opinion won by Shinzo Abe after his hard line oriented speech about dispute of Senkaku Diaoyu Island, very polemic and controversial, pronounced in Unites States and wildly covered by the local press and Japanese press, for the personal face complex of a politician who refuses the image of being beaten during last election marries well the collective face complex of his electorate rejecting the image of beaten nation during the last world war.

As China, Japan has also his own priorities, much more important than no-man's islands, to manage. Firstly, the reestablishment of his domestic economy longtime plunged in recession; secondly, the renewal of his traditional technology, for instance, that used in TV industry, to be able to match more closely with the needs of world wild consumer of new generation; thirdly, to take back his second place of economic superpower just after United States, to consolidate it and to prepare seriously his entry into Security Council- one of the major obstacles is the famous veto detained by China-, in the particular context where the regional and world wild economic power is defied more and more by number of newly industrialized countries around him, such as South Korea, China and India. But the imminent threat for Japan in terms of his security, or nightmare, is to see North Korea armed with nuclear weapon and launch all the time his missiles both in the Japanese airspace and maritime space.

hile China with her emergence presents a long term threat for the country, the treatment of this issue needs more time, more patience and more wisdom for both two countries which are so much inter-dependant in terms of respective domestic economy that all attempt of military conflict between two partners will show his double-edged effect immediately. China remains the workshop closest to Japan with a large pool of low cost, competent and competitive labor resource. She is also the biggest market for Japanese products and one of the most important suppliers of energy and raw materials, as rare earths, indispensable for the computer and mobile phone industries, as well as for electric car industry. Last September when in China some nationalist politicians called for boycotting Japanese products, especially Japanese cars, one of the top leaders of civil nuclear sector in China recognized in private circumstance that the construction of the future park of nuclear plant planned by the government in horizon of 2020, with about 60 reactors built up in total, will depend on the Japanese supply chain of critical equipments made by Japanese companies like Mitsubishi. One of the top black humor happened in reality is, during the several episodes of toxic and thick fog over more than fifty Chinese big cities from the end of 2012 to the beginning of 2013 when the crisis over Senkaku Diaoyu Island reached his highest point, those who had called for boycotting Japanese products rushed themselves into electronics products shop for destocking all the air cleaners made in... Japan for installing them in their beautiful outstanding houses.

Map of the South China Sea,
with annotations showing the disputed maritime territories,
most notably over Paracels and Spratley Islands
(© U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, released in the public domain by the CIA)

In South Korea, the succession of leading team has passed successfully in peace and in a general calm of population, despite of a few contestations about fraud during election. All of this in the context of reconstitution of Korean identity, historical process started since the next day of the ending ceremony of Olympic Games held in Seoul in 1988, a similar process like what had happened after Tokyo Olympic Games held in 1964. The necessity of the reconstruction of Korean identity has met a major obstacle: the division of the nation since 1945, end of the Japanese colonization. So the dream of renaissance of Korean Nation will take a road map longer than expected especially after the return of experience of the fall of Berlin Wall. Despite of that, South Korea never hesitate one second to demonstrate her strong determination when claiming her sovereignty over Tokto Takeshima Island face to Japan and over White Mountains face to China. At least in a symbolic way, for South Korea knows clearly that her true enemy is neither Japan nor China but her neighbor of the North, inside the frontiers but beyond the 38° line. While North Korea is no longer content to be a simple pion controlled by China face to challenges form United States and from Japan on the international and regional chessboards. She begins to negotiate a bigger autonomy and independence with her traditional supplier of energy, of food and financial aides. The exit of Pyongyang out of Talks of Six Countries presided by Peking marks a breakup of the traditional relationship between China and North Korea, the little brother. Consequently, the big brother has to review her politics in regard of little one who wants no longer dance in following conductor's baton of Peking. All of this changed completely the configuration of the power games in the region at a very bad moment for China, obliged to go nearer to the position of United States and of Japan consisting to contain together North Korea, a permanent « trouble maker », with a young leader impetuous and unpredictable.

Vietnam is a country that knows, historically speaking, how to deal with his immense neighbor of the North, in fields of political, economical and military affaires. For example, between two Stalinist Parties there is a rather good relationship in terms of cooperation, respectful and cordial, because both of them have to face the same challenges: how to perpetuate the regime in their countries in a vital space reduced day after day with the Bloc of Soviet Union disappeared? But between the two armies, it is another story. The relationship is very cold, even glacial and contentious from time to time. Very often the Vietnamese army takes a hard position vis-à-vis to China about Paracels and Spratley Islands while the Vietnamese Party keeps maliciously silent. Aware that the country could not offer the same military budget than Chinese army has to built aircraft carrier, the chiefs of the armed forces in Vietnam decided to buy a semi dozen of submarines made in Russia capable to attack secretly Chinese Marine's fleet equipped of aircraft carrier, a asymmetric strategy non less pertinent. The Vietnamese army masters, better than Chinese army, “Art of the War” and “Thirty Six Stratagems” and this is well proved during the frontiers war exploded between two countries in 1978 and Chinese invaders have loosen a lot of face. Today, the Vietnamese strategy consists to defy the threat of his big brother-enemy and to get profit from his geographic advantages in terms of proximity to the disputed islands to apply the sovereignty de facto, either by intensive exploitation of petroleum industry or by that of tourist industry, and to develop at the same time his silent fleet of submarines.

As for Manila, the Philippines's government has made an another choice consisting to lay upon the protection offered by American Marine's Pacific Fleet in preventing from a eventual military attack from China due to the dispute around Scarborough Shoal Huangyan Island. The choice is both a clever and economical one for the American Marine's forces are more dissuasive than any other else, which can allow Philippines people to sleep with tranquility over the Pacific Ocean's wind waves.

One of the three regional powers, apart from China and Japan, is India. The country, propelled by the rapid growth-both economic and demographic-, became a such important geostrategic pole of Asia that no person could neglect any more her potential. Since many years, India tries to find her right place on the international scene which should match with her ambitious vocation, real power and high importance in terms of long history of Indian civilization. She is, today, a declared competitor of China in every aspect, such as political, economical, social, cultural and even military. Needless to remind her hard volunteer to enter logically into Security Council of United Nations. Needless, neither, to place emphasis on her terrible arsenal of nuclear weapons, her fleet with aircraft carriers controlling the access to Indian Ocean from the side of Pacific Ocean, and finally, the very ambitious program of space exploitation. All of this make India a potential enemy non neglectable which could present real threats in the eyes of her big neighbor in the North side of Himalaya Mountains. China has to face a very delicate situation today, feeling being surrounded by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in the East, by countries of ASEAN in the South constituting an immense island chain from East to South that China has to break if she wants to project her marine force beyond her maritime space, and by India in the West side capable to launch at any moment attacks against her historical enemy. The strategic alliance between China and Pakistan, brother-enemy of India, is one of the solution imagined by China which has just taken control of the city port of Gwadar. A « purely commercial » operation confirmed by Peking presents a nightmare to New Deli, highly vigilante on the least presence of Chinese Marine in the area of Indian Ocean. This delicate situation helps Chinese eagles to understand that they are unable to manage two military conflicts both on the East front and on the West front. That's why the actual tactic applied by China consists to multiply the economic exchanges with India, to imply more and more India in the Club of Countries of Brics so that she can set aside the tension with India and to postpone the perspective of a future measurement. Another two chapters of contentious issue between China and India is, firstly, the dispute of territory in Himalaya area which led to a military conflict in the years of 1960 and up to now, the frontiers between two countries remain unsettled. Secondly, the problem of Tibet and of Dalai Lama, with his government on exil based on DharmsÄla, in India. For the first issue, negotiation between New Deli and Peking sounds fruitless but it is still lasting. As for the second issue, no one could predict when and how a solution could be found in short or in middle term.

After drawing such a geo-politic and geostrategic map in the Asia Pacific region, we can now find out some elements to feed our reflection. Firstly, the nature of such a configuration of diverse powers in Asia Pacific region, which looks like that of “Fighting Kingdoms” in ancient China, could establish a certain balance mechanism in the area. Secondly, the actual situation could incite diverse actors to stack the cards in order to create new type of alliances among themselves, sometimes it could be crossed alliances. For instance, India, ancient allie of Soviet Union during the Cold War, is now frequently approached by United States and Japan while Pakistan, brother-enemy of India and historical allie of United States has renewed and reinforced this kind of relation after the event of September 11th 2001. But nothing could prevent this country from setting a strategic alliance with China during several decades. If North Korea left definitely the Talks of Six Countries after her third nuclear essay, it's probably for being considered as a more important interlocutor by Washington with which Pyongyang prefers have a direct negotiation instead of being manipulated by Peking. Thirdly, there are a lot of tensions between different major actors of the region but some of them could go annul reciprocally when parameters are changed in an unpredictably way. That's why we noticed that North Korea, « trouble maker », has brought down some tensions between major actors thanks to her nuclear essay and missiles tests in creating new tension in the region which leads to modify the map of risk in staffs of several countries. Any way, North Korea, with his new leader, looks like a black horse in geopolitical game. Nothing, however, predicts there is only sunshine in Asia Pacific region in 2013, year of Snake which symbolize wisdom and pragmatism. Clouds can be gathered suddenly at any place, cyclones and depressions can also bring some collateral damages, but scientists know well that in the very heart of typhoon, the tension is smaller while the coefficient of security is bigger. It seems that in horizon of 2013, clouds will disappear one after another, for the simple reason that after the succession games well completed in different capitals, the nationalist shows have to mark a pause so that everything could return back to its normal place.

One question is to be raised when time comes to make conclusion. Some French and European university's researchers in geopolitics and specialized in affaires of Asia Pacific region try to propose to different actors the scenario of Asian Union, inspired of European Union's model, for eradicating definitely the existing factors leading to any war. It's a very good initiative, of course, and the scenario is an ideal one. But the conditions are far from being got together. If we refer to European's more than 60 years experiences, a beautiful success story despite of actual difficulties, we can find that one of the basic conditions for the success story is that all countries members share the same fundamental values. It is not the case, however, in Asia Pacific region. Let's take China for example. Since 2008 when Ma Ying-Jeou, candidate of Kuomintang, won the presidential election in Republic of China in Taiwan, the tension with mainland fell down and the bilateral relationship between two sides of Taiwan Strait begins to warm up. But President Ma who has just renewed his mandate avoids to talk about the perspective of reunification with mainland, or about the political dialogue: he is only attached to develop commercial exchanges with other side of the strait. For he knows better than anyone else that people in Taiwan, even they consider themselves as Chinese, refuse to join mainland's regime. It's simply a question of fundamental values that are totally different. The strategy adopted by Mister Ma is to wait for changes inside People's Republic of China. So is the case for two Korea. Asia Pacific region was one of the major theater of the Cold War. It has finished everywhere except in this region and non person could predicate the end. In such context, how people could imagine such a scenario of integration of the biggest continent in the world ? Another problem is the religion. India and Pakistan are in permanent religious conflict since 1947 when India was divided into two countries with a religious frontiers well settled. Unlike European Union to which Catholic religion has contributed a lot. The last problem but not the least is where should stop the frontiers of the future Asia Union? United States, Australia, Central Asia, West Asia and Middle East, would they join the map of Asia Union finally? And which role they will play?

For finishing, we could say that the perspective of Asia Union should not be kept away and the mains actors of the region have to learn from European Union's experience and that of African Union for being able to prepare a common future, with a long term strategic vision. When people dreams of an ideal, it is already the first step towards the ideal. However, people need time and necessary conditions to make an ideal a reality step by step. On this topic, we can refer to Shi Naian and Luo Guanzhong, co-author of the historical novel “The Three Fighting Kingdoms”. In the first page, they told us: “ The trend of the evolution of the world is that when a country is divided, it would find his unity in the end. When it's unified, he will, as well, find his division again”.

Roger Williames
Professeur d'histoire
Université Paris 3 - Sorbonne nouvelle

The Liancourt Rocks, or Dokdo/Tokoto (독도) in Korean, or Takeshima (竹島) in Japanese (© demis.nl, released in the public domain by its author)
The Liancourt Rocks, or Dokdo/Tokoto (독도) in Korean, or Takeshima (竹島) in Japanese (© Rachouette, under a WikiCommons license)
The Liancourt Rocks, or Dokdo/Tokoto (독도) in Korean,or Takeshima (竹島) in Japanese
(© map: demis.nl, released in the public domain by its author;
photo: Rachouette, under a WikiCommons license)
Affiche de propagande chinoise représentant
Roger Williames
Professor of history, University of Paris 3 - Sorbonne nouvelle