A Political Economy Approach
Edited by Jehoon Park, T. J. Pempel and Heungchong Kim
Chapter 9: Reducing Security Tensions in Northeast Asia: Lessons from Economics and Institutions
T.J. Pempel Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Northeast Asia was engulfed by the same bipolar security tensions that gripped most of the globe. Nevertheless, the Cold War’s bipolar tensions had been softened by Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 and eventual normalization of diplomatic ties between the two former adversaries. Ties between China and Japan were normalized in 1972 and then China expanded from its singular alliance with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) by recognizing the Republic of Korea (ROK) in 1992 (Yahuda, 2004, Chapter 3; LaFeber, 2008, Chapters 10–11; Overholt, 2008, inter alia). Still, despite the Soviet collapse, the number of indigenously based and unresolved security challenges remained sufficiently high to allow many realist scholars of international relations to contend that East Asia still remains a region ‘ripe for rivalry’ (Friedberg, 1993; Buzan and Segal, 1994, inter alia) ‘the cockpit of battles’ (Van Ness, 2003) and one likely to break out in overt military confrontation (Mearsheimer, 2001). Yet since the end of the Cold War, as Muthiah Alagappa (2003: 1–33) and others (for example, Kang, 2003; Cha, 2007: 110; Goh, 2007–08: 113) have shown, the number of security clashes has gone down and most of the region’s disputes and conflicts have been stabilized. Solingen (2007: 757) adds specificity to this observation by showing the relative decline in regional military expenditures: ‘Military modernization has not undermined macroeconomic and regional stability. Military expenditures relative to GNP have declined from 2.6% (1985) to 1.8%...
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