Regional Overview

Jul — Sep 2001
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Ushering in the Post Post-Cold War Era

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Ralph A. Cossa
Pacific Forum

The quarter did not begin on Sept. 11, but (at least from an American perspective) most events that came before that date appear to have paled in significance or, at a minimum, require reassessment in light of Washington’s new war on terrorism.  The horrific attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon may help usher in the “post post-Cold War era,” by creating an opportunity for a fundamentally changed relationship between Washington and both Moscow and Beijing.  It may also provide Tokyo with the incentive (and excuse) to take a major step toward becoming a “normal” nation and more equal security partner.  While Washington’s attention is focused largely on the Middle East/Southwest Asia, the implications of the Sept. 11 attacks and subsequent war on terrorism will be felt throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

While the attacks may have helped (at least temporarily) to create a spirit of bipartisanship in the United States, they did little to ease the highly partisan domestic political bickering in two of the region’s young democracies.  On the Korean Peninsula, the resumption of North-South high-level dialogue means that Kim Dae-jung’s ruling party now seemingly enjoys greater cooperation with the North than with its Southern counterparts, including (former) members of the ruling coalition.  Meanwhile, opposition parties in Taiwan seem more willing to cooperate with the government in Beijing than with the one in Taipei.

Prior to Sept. 11, U.S. policy toward East Asia seemed to be evolving smoothly, following Secretary of State Colin Powell’s July swing through Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, China, and Australia.  Powell also attended the annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) ministerial meeting in Hanoi, where he signaled a U.S. commitment to support the Asian multilateral security dialogue process.

One major diplomatic casualty of the emerging war on terrorism was President Bush’s long-anticipated first visit to Tokyo and Seoul to underscore his alliance-based Asia strategy.  While Bush is still slated to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting in Shanghai, his planned en route visit to Washington’s two Northeast Asia allies was canceled, as was a follow-up trip to Beijing for a summit meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.  This is unlikely to generate serious charges of “Japan passing,” given the understandable circumstances and Bush’s willingness to hold separate side meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro and ROK President Kim Dae-jung (plus Jiang) in Shanghai.  Nonetheless, it represents a missed opportunity for President Bush finally to lay out his vision for East Asia to a broader Japanese and Korean audience.

9-11 Implications

Has the post-Cold War era come to an end?  Probably not . . . at least not yet.  But we have the opportunity to create a new global paradigm, built upon a common goal of ridding the world of international terrorism; a goal that most nations, regardless of political system or religious belief (including Islam), can equally embrace, even if a common definition of what constitutes “international terrorism” may prove elusive.  Once before, in 1990/91, there was an opportunity to create “a new world order” as a diverse group of nations came together to repel the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.  But, as the Iraqi occupation ended, so too ended this first attempt by Washington to develop a more broad-based global security framework.

The Russians, no longer enemies of the U.S., were still not true friends.  In fact, prior to Sept. 11, growing differences between Moscow and Washington seemed to far exceed common interests or objectives.  The differences, already festering during the Clinton administration, seem to have been exacerbated with the advent of the Bush administration, despite some apparent positive personal chemistry between Presidents Bush and Putin.

Meanwhile, the end of the Cold War deflated much of the strategic rationale behind Sino-U.S. cooperation, just as Tiananmen ended America’s growing fascination with all things Chinese.  Subsequent attempts to “build toward a constructive strategic partnership” were more style than substance, as painfully revealed by the Chinese response to the accidental bombing of the PRC embassy in Belgrade by U.S./NATO forces.  (Of note, the number killed during that terrible accident is greater than the number of PRC citizens, not to mention ethnic Chinese, killed deliberately as a result of the World Trade Center attack.)  The April collision between an American EP-3 reconnaissance plane and a Chinese jet fighter and the decision by Washington to aggressively pursue missile defense (MD) were just two of many points of contention that further degraded Sino-U.S. relations.

In short, prospects for cooperation with Moscow and Beijing on strategic issues seemed increasingly slim.  All this changed on Sept 11. The terrorist attacks created a new strategic rationale for cooperation, generating an opportunity for a fundamentally changed relationship between Washington and both Moscow and Beijing.  They also provide Tokyo with the incentive (and excuse) to take a major step toward becoming a “normal” nation and more equal security partner.  Such outcomes are by no means assured.  They will require careful, skilled management and a genuine desire to transform international politics. But, the opportunity and incentive are now there, not only vis-à-vis Washington’s relations with Russia, China, and Japan, but region-wide.

Details about how each of the key Asia bilateral relationships has been affected by and has reacted to the events of Sept. 11 are contained elsewhere in this journal.  I would like to add some general observations.

New U.S.-Russia Paradigm?  The area where the greatest change is possible and may indeed already be occurring is in relations between Washington and Moscow.  President Vladimir Putin was the first to call President Bush to express outrage over the attack and pledge his support.  Russian actions went beyond mere atmospherics.  Immediately after the attack, U.S. military forces worldwide were placed on high alert. During the Cold War, this would have automatically prompted Moscow to respond in kind.  Even in the post-Cold War world, a decision by Russia to increase its own military alert status would not have been considered out of the ordinary.  What was truly extraordinary was Putin’s order for Russian troops to stand down so as not to add to international tensions, a decision he personally relayed to Bush.  As Bush later observed, “it was a moment where it clearly said to me that he understands the Cold War is over.”

Since then, Putin has agreed to share intelligence with Washington and to open Russian airspace to U.S. humanitarian and support flights; he has even raised the prospect of Russian search and rescue support for U.S. combat operations, while increasing Moscow’s support to anti-Taliban forces.  Most significantly, after some initial hedging Putin gave the green light to the former Soviet Central Asian Republics to allow U.S. military forces to stage out of bases there.  Much has been written about Chinese concerns about a possible U.S. military presence in Central Asia, but the region remains first and foremost in the Russian sphere of influence.  Russian acceptance (much less active support) of a U.S. military presence in its “near abroad” would have been unthinkable on Sept. 10.

It behooves Washington, however, to ensure Moscow (no less than Beijing) that it seeks no long-term military presence in this region.  Access rights and staging bases in Central Asia may be critical to conducting sustained combat operations against terrorist camps (and the Taliban leadership) in Afghanistan.  Establishing permanent U.S. military bases in the region makes little sense, however, and runs the risk of undermining the chances of genuine long-term cooperation between Washington and Moscow.

Missile Defense Compromise?  Even with this newfound spirit of cooperation, contentious issues remain.  While Washington may be more understanding and tolerant of Moscow’s efforts to quell its own terrorist threat (emanating from Chechnya), criticism over human rights and other perceived Russian infringements on civil liberties is sure to continue.  And then there’s missile defense.

Predictably, opponents of missile defense were quick, in the wake of Sept. 11, to point out that such defenses were useless against the more likely threats America faces today, such as attacks by terrorists that next time may even employ chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction (for which the U.S. seems ill-prepared).  Equally predictably, proponents argued that terrorists willing to conduct such a heinous act (and the rogue nations who so blatantly support them) would certainly not hesitate to fire a missile at a U.S. city, were they to get their hands on one.  Regardless of which argument one personally favors, in times of crisis Washington politicians and defense planners can be expected normally to err on the side of being more, not less, cautious.  It appears inevitable, therefore, that some form of missile defense will remain a key component of Washington’s overall homeland defense plan.

However, the debate over what form of MD will be adopted and how comprehensive an umbrella will be built is likely to be affected.  Both the shock to the economy caused by the terrorist assault and the massive costs involved in developing a comprehensive homeland defense system provide additional incentive for developing a (less costly) limited system, in order to free up money to address other more pressing concerns. The Congressional decision to reduce the 2002 $8 billion defense budget allocation for missile defense by $400 million in order to help fund other defensive measures reinforces this analysis.  This, plus the need for greater cooperation from Moscow on international issues in general, helps set the stage for closer relations.

Even before Sept. 11, it appeared that the seeds had been sown for some type of compromise between Washington and Moscow.  After all, the size and sophistication of Moscow’s nuclear arsenal gives it a great deal of flexibility.  Moscow can easily live with a limited MD system aimed only at deterring attack from rogue states or responding to accidental or unauthorized launches.  Meanwhile, Washington may also see the wisdom in delaying its decision to scrap the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty or become willing once again to enter into negotiations on its amendment, now that the Russians have changed from a “no changes” to a “let’s discuss it” negotiating stance.

Both President Bush and President Putin seem serious about wanting to redefine U.S.-Russia relations in order to finally put Cold War habits and constraints behind them.  The war on terrorism presents them with a golden opportunity to do just that . . . if the hawks in both camps can be held in check.

An Opportunity for Improved U.S.-PRC Relations.  The war on terrorism likewise presents Washington and Beijing with a common objective upon which to build greater strategic cooperation (even if none dare call it a “strategic partnership”).  While I remain less confident about the desire and ability of leaders in both countries (but especially China) to seize this opportunity, fighting international terrorism is one area where U.S. and Chinese strategic objectives clearly overlap, given China’s serious concerns about terrorism (in part supported by Osama bin Laden) in its western regions.

China joined the rest of the international community in condemning the Sept. 11 attacks and also acknowledged the appropriateness of a military response, provided it was directed at those proved to be guilty, avoided civilian casualties (always a U.S. objective), and was preceded by “consultations” with the UN.  While Washington was likely not thrilled to have President Jiang calling other UN Security Council members to reinforce these preconditions, they were not particularly onerous.

On the positive side, Beijing sent a team of counter-terrorism experts to Washington to explore ways the two sides could cooperate, amid positive signs that China was willing to share “useful intelligence” with Washington.  What was most troublesome about China’s response to 9-11 was its initial attempt to create linkages between Chinese support for the U.S. with American support for China’s own fight against “terrorism and separatism,” which seemed to imply a Taiwan quid-pro-quo.  This line of thinking was not pursued during Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan’s visit to Washington, but has served (as was no doubt its purpose) to make Taiwanese nervous about possible under the table deals.  Addressing these concerns, Secretary Powell has provided assurances that there has been “absolutely no discussion of a quid pro quo” – I personally find it unbelievable that any U.S. administration, much less this one, would contemplate such a deal.

The real moment of truth in possibly redefining Sino-U.S. relations should come when Presidents Bush and Jiang meet in Shanghai.  On some issues, like the need to combat international terrorism, they will easily agree.  On others, like Taiwan, they no doubt will continue to agree to disagree – Bush can be expected to underscore both Washington’s “one China” policy and the need for a peaceful solution.  The key to determining if a new Sino-U.S. strategic relationship is possible will be found in the nature of Chinese caveats regarding the war on terrorism and on Chinese statements regarding missile defense.  If Beijing is wise enough to seek and then accept assurances from Bush that Washington is committed to a limited MD system that will not put China’s nuclear deterrent at risk and then expresses willingness to enter into a dialogue that acknowledges there are legitimate security concerns on both sides, this could open the door for the “normal, constructive, and healthy” relations Beijing professes to seek with Washington.

A More Normal Japan?  Immediately after the attack, Prime Minister Koizumi went on record stating that Japan would “spare no effort in providing assistance and cooperation” in support of America’s war on terrorism.  He followed this up with even stronger commitments to provide intelligence and military logistical support during his late September visit to New York and Washington (along with much-needed aid to Pakistan and to the people of Afghanistan).

Backing up these assertions, Koizumi has introduced new legislation that will allow the Self‑Defense Forces (SDF) to provide logistic and other noncombatant support to U.S. forces conducting counter-terrorist military operations (including the provision of supplies, transportation, repairs and maintenance, medical services, communications, airport and seaport operations, and base operations).  Koizumi also put forth measures to permit the SDF to provide enhanced protection for U.S. forces and facilities in Japan.  Polls show the Japanese public is behind Mr. Koizumi’s efforts – the fact that over 100 Japanese citizens were among those killed in New York no doubt provides additional incentive to support the U.S. anti-terrorism effort.

Even before Sept. 11, Koizumi had signaled his desire to move Japan beyond the limits imposed by the current interpretation of Japan’s Constitution regarding his nation’s support for the U.S.-Japan alliance and Tokyo’s involvement in other collective defense efforts. (For more, see the Pacific Forum’s Issues & Insights report on United States-Japan Strategic Dialogue: Beyond the Defense Guidelines, May 2001.) However, it appeared unlikely that he would expend the political capital required to effect the change, given the need for painful economic reforms.  The war on terrorism has provided Koizumi with the incentive (and excuse) to take a major step toward becoming a “normal” nation, not just to avoid a repeat of the “Gulf War syndrome” (where Tokyo was criticized for just writing a check), but because he sincerely believes that the time has come for Japan to become a more equal partner to Washington and a more active participant in international security affairs.

Nonetheless, it appears doubtful that Japan will seek or agree to become involved in direct combat operations – this would take revision or at least a major reinterpretation of the constitution and also goes well beyond what Washington appears to be seeking from Tokyo in terms of support for the war on terrorism.  But Prime Minister Koizumi seems intent on expanding the definition of what constitutes appropriate alliance support, along with the necessary legislative changes (short of a constitutional revision) to make it possible.  In this regard, the terrorist attack will have profound implications for the nature of the U.S.-Japan alliance that are likely to last long beyond the immediate war on terrorism.

Interestingly, the response from Beijing and Seoul to Tokyo’s expanded (albeit non-combat) military involvement in the war on terrorism has been refreshingly muted, despite their history of strong objection to any action that increases the prospect of Japanese military involvement in just about anything.  More true to form, Pyongyang has issued a strong condemnation.

Korean Peninsula Implications.   South Korea, as expected, strongly condemned the terrorist attacks.  ROK President Kim Dae-jung immediately expressed his intention to “fully support” U.S. retaliatory actions and his nation’s willingness to participate in any “international coalition” against terrorism.  President Kim also proposed that the two Korean states adopt a joint resolution opposing terrorism at their high-level North-South talks in mid-September, a suggestion that was ignored by North Korea (and criticized by ROK opposition politicians). Nonetheless, North Korea joined the South in condemning the terrorist action, even sending a letter of condolences to Washington.

Pyongyang had been offered a golden opportunity by the Clinton administration to get itself off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism but failed to seize this chance.  As a result, DPRK critics have been quick to point to Pyongyang’s continued presence on this list as Washington plots its comprehensive campaign against international terrorists and the states that support them.  While there are no indications that the Bush administration intends to further complicate an already incredibly difficult task by adding North Korea to its list of targets, one can only hope that increased U.S. and broader world attention on states that sponsor terrorism will provide Pyongyang with the extra push needed to take the actions necessary to remove itself from this list, including the expulsion of Japanese Red Army terrorists who have enjoyed safe haven in the North for decades.

If Washington is not likely to focus its anti-terrorist efforts on Pyongyang, it is equally unlikely to expend much effort to further convince Pyongyang to resume its dialogue.  Secretary Powell has already stated that the Bush administration is prepared to resume talks anytime, anywhere, with no preconditions.  While it would welcome a resumption of dialogue, Washington is not likely to go beyond its current offer and seems comfortable about letting the ball lie on Pyongyang’s side of the net.

In response to North Korea’s continued recalcitrance, President Kim has inexplicably been calling repeatedly on the United States to “make its best effort to resume talks” with the North.  I say “inexplicably” since it is Pyongyang and not Washington that is setting the preconditions.  Imagine if President Bush started urging President Kim to try harder to engage the North – Kim would (rightfully) be insulted.  It would make considerably more sense, especially in light of current realities, for President Kim to be praising America’s willingness to talk and instead admonishing the North to “make its best effort to resume talks.”

Some Additional Thoughts

Let me conclude with some final thoughts about the evolving war on terrorism and its implications for Asia.

  1. This is a war on terrorism, not a war against Islam, but it could still turn out to be the latter, given the efforts of radical elements to lead things in this direction. Washington and the West in general have been very careful to stress that Islam is not the enemy. But, leaders and clerics from moderate Islamic states and movements have in many instances become their own worst enemies.  While condemning the Sept. 11 attacks, many have argued against retaliation and some have gone so far as to assert that an attack on Afghanistan is an attack against Islam.  The reverse is actually the case.  Osama bin Laden and the Taliban are not out to destroy the U.S., they merely want America to stop protecting the moderate Arab regimes, which are the real targets of their hatred and ambitions.  Any Islamic leader or group that fails to subscribe to their radical, extreme definition of Islam is their potential enemy.   It seems incomprehensible that moderate Arab and Islamic leaders, including those in Indonesia and Malaysia, are not being more outspoken about eliminating bin Laden and the Taliban since, in reality, they are (or could easily in the future become) the real target.  Burying their heads in the sand will not protect them in the long term.
  1. While President Bush has stated that “you are either with us or with the terrorists,” many states will try to remain essentially neutral (at least publicly) and will likely be allowed to do so. But this position may come back to haunt them. For example, prior to Sept. 11, the Bush administration attached a high priority to helping Indonesia recover from its political and economic crisis while still maintaining its territorial integrity.  Getting Washington to pay attention to anything not terrorist-related will now become more difficult.  Convincing Washington to attach high priority to helping nations that have provided lukewarm support or sent strongly mixed signals (as Indonesia continues to do) will likely be impossible.
  1. The Taliban must go! This is not just because they are clearly willing co-conspirators through their harboring of Osama bin Laden and his terrorist training camps and network. They must be eliminated in order to send a strong signal to other regimes that appear willing to actively support (or at least turn a blind eye toward) international terrorists located within their borders – this is what the Chinese call “killing the chicken to scare the monkey.”  This does not mean trying to conquer or occupy Afghanistan or even to help select or underwrite the Taliban’s successor.  That remains the task for Afghans themselves must tackle (with Western moral, humanitarian, and financial support when appropriate).
  1. A prolonged, sustained anti-terrorist campaign does not equate to a DESERT STORM-type operation with half a million soldiers swarming over Afghanistan. The instruments of war will be as much or more political and economic as they will be military, and ground forces will likely be used sparingly, with the emphasis on special operations rather than traditional military assaults. This will require expanded access to staging bases throughout the region but should not result in a substantial U.S. military presence on the ground in Pakistan or elsewhere in the Middle East or Southwest and Central Asia.  As noted earlier, efforts should be made to assure Russian, Chinese, and regional leaders that no permanent bases are being sought, not only to sustain the coalition but because such bases would likely cause more problems than they would solve over the long run.
  1. It was right to lift the sanctions imposed against India and Pakistan after their May, 1998 nuclear tests but it would be wrong to forget about the dangers posed by nuclear arsenals in both countries, but especially in Pakistan. Every effort must be made to safeguard these weapons, including convincing (or compelling) New Delhi and Islamabad not to operationally deploy these weapons. Operational deployment brings with it an increased likelihood not only of accidental or preemptive launch but also of theft or a deliberate turning over of such weapons to terrorists.
  1. Under current circumstances, the likelihood that the U.S. would use even tactical nuclear weapons in its war against terrorism ranges from extremely remote to nonexistent. The Pentagon’s refusal to rule out anything constitutes a standard response to questions about military options or tactics, not a signal worthy of the hand wringing taking place in the anti-nuclear community. On the other hand, Washington should make it unambiguously clear, as it did during the Gulf War, that the use of weapons of mass destruction – chemical, biological, or nuclear – in any future attack on the U.S. or its friends and allies is likely to draw a response using “all available means at its disposal.” This constitutes simple and direct deterrence.
  1. Finally, U.S. preoccupation with the war on terrorism does not mean a lessening of commitment to East Asia security. Speculation to the contrary has already begun.  In its first issue after the events of Sept. 11, the Far Eastern Economic Review speculated that the attacks could threaten Washington’s “willingness to undergird the region’s often shaky security,” that the security of shipping through the Malacca Strait had somehow been “thrown into question,” and that the Spratlys “suddenly seemed more vulnerable” as the U.S. 7th Fleet “went into self-defense mode.”  This is absolute nonsense.  The sustained deployment of 500,000 U.S. military forces during DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM a decade ago did not result in any diminution of America’s security commitment toward Asia; neither should a decision to focus on countering terrorism emanating from the Middle East/Southwest Asia.

Democracy in Progress

While the terrorist attacks helped (at least temporarily) to create a spirit of bipartisanship in the United States, they did little to ease the highly partisan domestic political squabbling in two of the region’s young democracies.  On the Korean Peninsula, with the resumption of North-South high-level dialogue, Kim Dae-jung’s ruling party now seemingly enjoys greater cooperation with the North than with its Southern counterparts, including (former) members of the ruling coalition.  Meanwhile, opposition parties in Taiwan seem more willing to cooperate with the government in Beijing than with the one in Taipei.

Korea. Prospects for President Kim Dae-jung’s already beleaguered Sunshine Policy took a turn for the worse after Aug. 15, when ROK citizens who were permitted to attend Liberation Day ceremonies in Pyongyang took part in expressly forbidden activities glorifying the North Korean regime.  This resulted in an unprecedented no-confidence vote (supported by then-members of the ruling coalition) against Unification Minister Lim Dong-won, the primary architect of the president’s Sunshine Policy.

The night before the vote, in what many saw as a crass attempt to influence ROK politics, Pyongyang announced that it was willing to resume high-level North-South talks (suspended by the North since March).  This was too little, too late to save Lim but was welcomed nonetheless. However, the real test of North Korea’s sincerity remains the willingness of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il finally to set a date for his promised visit to the South and to sign a North-South Declaration of Peace (not to be confused with a still to be negotiated formal Peace Treaty) during his visit.  A continued lack of reciprocity on the part of Pyongyang will accelerate President Kim’s growing lame duck status and make it even more difficult for him to govern between now and the December 2002 election to choose his successor (he cannot run again).

Taiwan.  In August, a major stir was created by a Pacific Forum PacNet article by Bonnie Glaser (China’s Taiwan Policy: Still Listening and Watching, PacNet 33, 2001), citing PRC interlocutors as claiming that Taiwan KMT opposition party members visiting the mainland were encouraging Beijing not to cooperate with Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government – as if Beijing needed any encouragement in this regard.  While the veracity of the Chinese allegations can be questioned – the KMT vigorously denied them – it appears clear that the KMT and other opposition parties (such as the pro-unification New Party) have expanded the domestic political battlefield to the mainland, much to Beijing’s delight.  This seems self-defeating.

Of note, the Chen administration and all opposition parties were able to come together through an Economic Development Advisory Conference, which reached consensus in early September on setting aside the old “no haste, be patient” cross-Strait economic policy established by former President Lee Teng-hui and formerly endorsed by Chen in favor of an “active opening, effective management” policy that could help stimulate Taiwan’s struggling economy (while at the same time pleasing Beijing).  It raises the question as to why Taiwan politicians can come together to seek and reach consensus when money is at stake, but can’t seem to be able to do it on issues of vital national security.

The Taiwan domestic political situation has become even more complicated with the creation of a new party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), openly backed by former President Lee Teng-hui – an action that prompted the KMT to expel its former leader.  If the TSU gains a sizable number of seats or expands through additional KMT defections after this December’s parliamentary elections – there are many KMT members sympathetic to Lee who have likely remained “loyal” to the KMT to ensure adequate financing for their campaigns – Lee could be in position to grab a share of the power.  A DPP-TSU coalition could have Beijing doubting the wisdom of its current effort to weaken Chen Shui-bian.

Asia Policy Still Evolving

Finally, a few words on Bush’s still evolving Asia policy, the major aspects of which remain essentially unchanged from those described in last quarter’s report (see “Bush Asia Policy Slowly Takes Shape,” Comparative Connections, Vol. 3, No. 2).  Washington’s focus on strengthening its regional alliances, its desire to engage rather than confront China, and its willingness to resume dialogue with North Korea were all reinforced during Secretary of State Colin Powell’s July visits to Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, China, and Australia.  Powell also attended the annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) ministerial meeting in Hanoi, where he signaled a U.S. commitment to support the Asian multilateral security dialogue process.  At the ARF meeting, some notable progress was made in examining its future role in the area of preventive diplomacy.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I feel compelled to note once again that what’s still missing is a more comprehensive Asia “Vision Statement” spelling out the Bush administration’s overall goals and policies toward East Asia.  It was hoped that Bush would provide this during his planned visits to Japan and Korea prior to the October APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Shanghai, which was also to include a follow-on meeting with President Jiang in Beijing.  While Bush is still slated to go to Shanghai, his long-anticipated first visit with Washington’s two Northeast Asia allies has become a casualty of the war on terrorism. While this is unlikely to generate charges of “Japan passing,” given the understandable circumstances and Bush’s willingness to hold side meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi and ROK President Kim Dae-jung (and President Jiang) in Shanghai, it nonetheless represents a missed opportunity for President Bush finally to lay out his vision for East Asia for a broader Japanese and Korean audience.

In sum, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have served as a wake-up call for America and the civilized world writ large.   As horrific as the four hijackings and subsequent crashes were, they have helped set the stage for the creation of a post post-Cold War era of cooperation among like-minded nations.  While success is by no means assured, the opportunity exists today to create a new global paradigm, built upon the common goal of ridding the world of international terrorism.

Regional Chronology

July — September 2001

July 3, 2001: EP-3 surveillance plane flown out of China, in pieces, aboard a Russian cargo plane.

July 5, 2001: President Bush calls Chinese President Jiang Zemin to raise concerns over arrests of U.S. citizens and green card holders.

July 9, 2001: Tokyo replies to Beijing and Seoul that the newly approved history text book contains no “clear mistakes.”

July 10, 2001: Former Philippine President Estrada indicted on the capital offense of economic plunder.

July 11, 2001: President Jiang expresses indignation over textbook issue and PM Koizumi’s Yasukuni Shrine visit in meeting with LDP Secretary General Yamasaki.

July 11, 2001: ROK President Kim Dae-jung refuses to see LDP Secretary General Yamasaki.

July 11, 2001: Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Taiwan’s New Party agree to engage in occasional party-to-party talks.

July 12, 2001: Seoul freezes all money transactions and cancels plans to open its market to Japanese music tapes.

July 13, 2001: PRC is selected to host 2008 Summer Olympics.

July 13, 2001: U.S. and North Korean officials hold talks on resuming North-South dialogue in New York.

July 15, 2001: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice visits Moscow to discuss MD.

July 16, 2001: Secretary Powell meets with Malaysian FM Syed Hamid Albar.

July 16, 2001: President Jiang and Russian President Putin sign the Sino-Russian Treaty of Good Neighborliness, Friendship, and Cooperation during Jiang’s visit to Moscow.

July 16, 2001: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal  Behari Vajpayee meet in Agra, India.

July 16, 2001: DPRK refuses IAEA inspection.

July 18, 2001: FM Tanaka and Secretary Powell meet at G-8 Ministerial Meeting in Rome.

July 19, 2001: China signs $1.8 billion deal to buy 40 Russian Su-30 MKK ground attack jets.

July 21-22, 2001: Presidents Putin and Bush meet at G-8 summit in Genoa.

July 23, 2001: Megawati Sukarnoputri appointed as Indonesian President.

July 23, 2001: U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Randt arrives in Beijing.

July 23, 2001: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Annual Ministers’ Meeting in Hanoi.

July 24, 2001: John Bolton, U.S. undersecretary for arms control and international security, says U.S. TMD could cover Taiwan.


July 24, 2001: ASEAN Plus Three meet in Hanoi.

July 25, 2001: U.S. abandons talks on 1972 Biological Weapons Convention enforcement.

July 25, 2001: ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting is held in Hanoi; Secretary Powell meets Chinese FM Tang Jiaxuan, among others.

July 25-27, 2001: National Security Adviser Rice, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, and Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans meet with President Putin in Moscow.

July 26, 2001: ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference and China-ASEAN dialogue are held in Hanoi.

July 26, 2001: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il begins Russia trip.

July 26, 2001: Former ROK President Kim Young-sam meets with President Chen in Taiwan.

July 27, 2001: Secretary Powell says Washington is ready for talks with Pyongyang “at the time and place of North Korea’s choice” at meeting with President Kim in ROK.

July 28, 2001: President Jiang and Secretary Powell meet in Beijing.

July 29, 2001: Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) claims upset win in Upper House election with 64 seats.

July 30, 2001: Australian FM Alexander Downer and Minister of Defense Peter Reith meet with Secretary Powell and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld in Australia for AUSMIN.

Aug. 2, 2001: ROK DM Kim Dong-shin and Vietnamese DM Pham Van Tra meet in Seoul.

Aug. 3, 2001: Constitutional Court allows Thai PM Thaksin to keep his position.

Aug. 4, 2001: North Korean leader Kim meets with President Putin in Moscow; the two sign Moscow Declaration and DPRK-Russia Railway Pact.

Aug. 6, 2001: U.S. Senate delegation led by Joseph Biden, chairman of U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, meets with President Chen in Taipei.

Aug. 6, 2001: DPRK leader Kim tours Russian satellite launching center in Korolyov.

Aug. 7-9, 2001: U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Russian Col. Gen. Yury Bauyevsky hold arms talks at the Pentagon.

Aug. 7-10, 2001: Biden delegation meets President Jiang at Beidaihe; visits Shanghai and Beijing.

Aug. 8, 2001: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malaysia.

Aug. 8, 2001: DPRK rejects U.S. agenda for dialogue.

Aug. 10, 2001: PM Koizumi re-elected as president of LDP without challenge.

Aug. 10, 2001: USTR Zoellick in Jakarta.

Aug. 10, 2001: Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk signs legislation to establish a genocide tribunal.

Aug. 11, 2001: Biden delegation meets with President Kim in Seoul.

Aug. 12, 2001: Secretary Rumsfeld meets Russian DM Ivanov in Moscow for arms talks.

Aug. 13, 2001: PM Koizumi visits Yasukuni Shrine.

Aug. 13, 2001: China rejects U.S. offer of $34,000 to cover the cost of EP-3 collision.  China demands $1 million.

Aug. 15, 2001: ROK unification activists taking part in Liberation Day Ceremonies in Pyongyang visit politically contentious monument, prompting arrests and calls for Unification Minister Lim Dong-won to resign.

Aug. 16, 2001: APEC Senior Officials Meeting at Dailan, China.

Aug. 17, 2001: U.S. Navy holds one-day military exercise in the South China Sea.

Aug. 20, 2001: PM Koizumi warns President Putin over Russia’s granting licenses to fish off the coast of Kurile Islands to South Korea.

Aug. 21, 2001: U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary for International Security Affairs Peter Rodman says that the Defense Department is resuming limited military exchanges with PRC.

Aug. 21, 2001: Russia rejects U.S. proposal to withdraw from the ABM Treaty.

Aug. 21, 2001: Indonesian President Megawati meets with President Macapagal-Arroyo in Manila.

Aug. 21, 2001: Undersecretary of State Bolton meets with Russian Deputy FM Georgii Mamedov in Moscow.

Aug. 21-25, 2001: Vietnamese President Truc Duc Long meets with President Kim in Seoul.

Aug. 22, 2001: South Korea detains 16 members of a delegation that visited North Korea.

Aug. 22, 2001: The PLA launches military exercises around Dongshan Island near Taiwan, the largest ever in terms of scale, duration, and the number of personnel committed (100,000 troops).

Aug. 22, 2001: President Macapagal-Arroyo visits Brunei to ask Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah for financial aid.

Aug. 23, 2001: APEC Finance Minister’s Meeting in Hanoi.

Aug. 23, 2001: The Kyoto District Court rules that the central government must pay $375,000 to 15 Koreans who survived an explosion aboard the Imperial Japanese Navy transport ship during WWII.

Aug. 23, 2001: U.S. and China begin missile talks.

Aug. 24, 2001: Undersecretary Bolton and DM Ivanov meet to discuss ABM Treaty.

Aug. 27, 2001: Indonesia reaches an agreement with IMF over $5 billion loan program.

Aug. 27-31, 2001: U.S.-ROK annual joint military exercises Ulchi Focus Lens begins.

Aug. 28, 2001: PM Thaksin meets PRC Premier Zhu Rongji in Beijing.

Aug. 28, 2001: President Megawati visits Malaysia, the last stop of her eight-day nine-nation tour. She visited Philippine, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Singapore before Malaysia.

Aug. 30, 2001: East Timor’s first ballot to chose 88 member assembly to write the nation’s constitution occurs; no reports of violence.

Aug. 30, 2001: U.S. Assistant Secretary James Kelly in East Timor for talks.

Sept. 1, 2001: Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) Hiranuma Takeo and USTR Zoellick meet in Washington.

Sept. 2, 2001: North Korea proposes resumption of inter-Korean high-level dialogue, after a half of year silence.

Sept. 3, 2001: ROK National Assembly passes no-confidence motion against Unification Minister Lim.

Sept. 3-5, 2001: President Jiang meets DRRK leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang.

Sept. 4, 2001: ROK Cabinet resigns.

Sept. 4, 2001: The Kuomintang Party (KMT) expels former President Lee Teng-hui in response to his support for new Taiwan Solidarity Union.

Sept. 6, 2001: ROK FM Han Seung-soo expresses objection to possible attendance at APEC by DPRK leader Kim.

Sept. 6, 2001: TCOG meets in Tokyo.

Sept. 7, 2001: KEDO Executive Director Charles Kartman in Seoul.

Sept. 7, 2001: FM Tanaka meets with Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander in chief U.S. Pacific Fleet, in Hawaii.

Sept. 8, 2001: The 50th anniversary of U.S.-Japan alliance.  Secretary Powell and FM Tanaka meet in San Francisco.

Sept. 8, 2001: Premier Zhu and Russian PM Mikhail Kasyanov sign the contract for oil pipeline and delivery of 203 civilian planes during his visit to Moscow.

Sept. 8-10, 2001: APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Suzhou, China; ROK Deputy PM Jin Nyun meets U.S. Treasury Secretary O’Neill.

Sept. 9, 2001: Premier Zhu meets with President Putin in Moscow.

Sept. 9, 2001: Australian Prime Minister Howard meets with President Bush in Washington.

Sept. 10, 2001: Chinese Vice Premier Qian offers Hong Kong-style unification plan under which Taiwan will maintain its currency, customs, military, and government structures.

Sept. 11, 2001: Terrorists attack the U.S., destroying the World Trade Center in New York and damaging Pentagon; President Putin is first to call President Bush to offer condolences and support.

Sept. 11, 2001: Russian DM Ivanov meets FM Tang in Moscow.

Sept. 12-14, 2001: High-level U.S. and PRC military officers meet for the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) in Guam to discuss ways to avoid incidents like EP-3 collision.

Sept. 12-16, 2001: ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Hanoi.

Sept. 13, 2001: President Macapagal-Arroyo and PM Koizumi meet in Tokyo.

Sept. 13, 2001: North Korea issues statement denouncing terrorist attack on the U.S.

Sept. 14, 2001: Shanghai Cooperation Organization prime ministers’ meeting in Kazakhstan.

Sept. 15-18, 2001: Inter-Korean ministerial level meeting in Seoul.

Sept. 16, 2001: Undersecretary Bolton arrives in Moscow for ABM withdrawal talks; meets with Deputy FM Georgii Mamedov.

Sept. 17, 2001: WTO approves terms of PRC entry.

Sept. 18, 2001: Taiwan wins WTO approval.

Sept. 18, 2001: FM Han Seung-soo meets Secretary Powell in Washington.

Sept. 19, 2001: Russian DM Ivanov meets President Bush and Secretary Powell in Washington.

Sept. 19, 2001: President Megawati meets with President Bush in Washington.

Sept. 19, 2001: South and North Korea agree to resume family reunions.

Sept. 19, 2001: Deputy Secretary of State Armitage visits Moscow.

Sept. 20-21, 2001: FM Tang meets President Bush and Secretary Powell in Washington.

Sept. 24, 2001: FM Tanaka and DM Ivanov meet.

Sept. 24, 2001: Indian National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra visits Washington.

Sept. 25, 2001: PM Koizumi meets President Bush in Washington.

Sept. 25, 2001: President Bush cancels his visits to Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing, but still plan’s to attend October APEC Leader’s Meeting in Shanghai.

Sept. 28, 2001: President Megawati and PM Koizumi meet in Tokyo.