This paper examines the dynamics of competition and cooperation in Northeast Asia, and how they shape the evolving security order. It also pays close attention to what these current trends mean for the interests and role of the European Union in this region. The paper argues that strategic uncertainties and geopolitical tensions, exacerbated by unresolved historical issues and mutual distrust, underpin the power-based competitive approaches to the security order in Northeast Asia. At the same time, the growing economic interdependence and common concerns in the area of non-traditional security continue to drive trilateral cooperation between South Korea, Japan and China. Importantly, the three neighbours share an understanding that trust is a prerequisite for a stable regional order. From this perspective, the EU’s know-how of confidence and institution building can stimulate the, still nascent, community-building efforts in Northeast Asia.
Paper presented at the international conference “Trust-building in North East Asia and the Role of the EU” organized in Rome on 21 October 2016 by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) with the kind support of the Korea Foundation (KF).
1. Northeast Asia’s strategic uncertainties
2. Competitive security dynamics
3. Cooperation and trust building
4. Approaches to regional order