Low ex­pec­ta­tions of Seoul sum­mit nec­es­sary

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

Atri­lat­eral sum­mit be­tween China, Ja­pan and the Re­pub­lic of Korea is due to be held this week­end in Seoul. This will be the first such meet­ing in three years, as the pre­vi­ous sum­mit be­tween the three coun­tries took place in Bei­jing in 2012. Orig­i­nally, the tri­lat­eralmeet­ings took place aside of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east­AsianNa­tions sum­mits. Later, they be­camea sep­a­rate event. When­things were bet­ter the­sum­mit­wasanan­nual event, but it has been sus­pended since 2012.

Thanks pri­mar­ily to the size of their economies, the three coun­tries are not just re­gional pow­ers, they carry weight in in­ter­na­tional af­fair­son­the world stage too. To­gether the three ac­count for about one-quar­ter of the gross world pro­duc­tandtheir share is grow­ing. There are so­many thing­son which the three coun­tries could co­op­er­ate to their mu­tual ben­e­fit. There is eve­na­nur­gent agenda in the realm of high pol­i­tics, as they could jointly ad­dress such press­ing tasks as main­tain­ing sta­bil­ityand­peace through­out the re­gio­nand en­sur­ing the re­gion’s sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

How­ever, inthe past such hope­shave soon fallen apart. So will this bean“old nor­mal” or the start of a “new nor­mal”? One of the el­e­ments in the “old nor­mal” has been the temp­ta­tion to find fault with fac­tors ex­ter­nal to the re­gion as an ex­cuse for our own fail­ure to or­ga­nize a regime of co­op­er­a­tion among our­selves. Be­ing in­ca­pable of set­tling our own af­fairs for and by our­selves re­flects badly on us and serves no con­struc­tive pur­pose. Yet there will not be many in the re­gion who en­ter­tain high hopes of any great achieve­ments be­ing made at the com­ing sum­mit meet­ing. How­ever, the lead­ers of the three coun­tries should at least be able to take this op­por­tu­nity to reach an agree­ment on the ba­sic prin­ci­ples gov­ern­ing the re­la­tions among them­selves in the fu­ture.

The fore­most of which will be that they should be able to de­rive cor­rect in­fer­ences from the un­happy past. The suf­fer­ings in­flicted on the peo­ple re­sult­ing from a mis­guided pol­icy of the then lead­ers of Ja­pan should no longer re­main as a prob­lem be­tween the na­tions. The Ja­panese peo­ple them­selves suf­fered too as a con­se­quence of the mil­i­taris­tic ag­gres­sion em­barked on by their lead­er­ship in the first half of the last cen­tury.

There should be a cor­rect recog­ni­tion of those facts fol­lowed by proper sup­port for the vic­tims. Fol­low­ing on from this there should be recog­ni­tion of a shared destiny in the re­gion par­tic­u­larly for the three neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.

The author is a re­searcher at the Min­istry of Com­merce’s In­ter­na­tional Trade and Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion In­sti­tute. If any one coun­try fails, this im­me­di­ately be­comes a fac­tor of in­sta­bil­ity in the re­gion, ad­versely af­fect­ing the other coun­tries too. In this world where the coun­tries are closely re­lated with one an­other it is the failed states that desta­bi­lize en­tire re­gions, even the world. It is ul­ti­mately to our own ben­e­fit that we should be forth­com­ing with our will­ing­ness to be of as­sis­tance to our neigh­bors in need. That may sound un­re­al­is­tic at present.

The three lead­er­s­may do well to dwell on pos­si­bil­ity of invit­ing the young leader of the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic ofKorea to their meet­ings in the fu­ture.

Fi­nally, I hope there will be time for the three lead­ers to de­lib­er­ate on their con­tri­bu­tion to hu­man­ity as a whole. De­spite all the prob­lems it has cre­ated the state of moder­nity that orig­i­nated in theWest has made con­tri­bu­tions to the progress of civ­i­liza­tion. Now­may be the time for the three na­tions in this re­gion to se­ri­ously con­sider what they should and could do to ame­lio­rate the fate of hu­man­ity in the days ahead.

The author is a Univer­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fes­sor at Hanyang Univer­sity and former ROK am­bas­sador to Ja­pan.


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