Nationalism Rises in Northeast Asia
06/01/2013 4 comentarios
Since the end of 20th century Northeast Asia has emerged as a central force in the globalization of the world. But the specter of rising nationalism in the area now threatens to undo the gains that global interdependence has brought to the region and to the world. “The most important strategic choice the Chinese made was to embrace the economic globalization rather than detach themselves from it,” wrote the leading Chinese reformer and economist Zheng Bijian in his seminal article for Foreign Affairs, “China’s Peaceful Rise”, in October 2005, a reference to the reform program launched in late 1970s by Deng Xiaoping. The speed, intensity and breadth of that embrace have transformed the planet (…..) In South Korea there is legacy of China’s role in Korean War and support, even if ambivalent, of the regime in Pyongyang. Japan and Korea worry more about China’s future goals. This anxiety, it must be stressed, is not a Northeast Asian monopoly. Countries in Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, also worry about China’s apparent nationalist territorial expansion, and India looks upon China’s ambitions suspiciously. The China’s “peaceful rise” would appear to be a distant, forlorn dream. Reality is more brutal and ugly. Nationalism is a powerful Chinese political force. From the viewpoint of global economic interdependence, it is the 3 economic juggernauts and their collective impact on global economy through the global supply chain that matters most. Today it must be recognized that while the embrace of globalization have generated great prosperity for all 3 countries, in stark contrast to North Korea which still rejects globalization and interdependence, by no means has it ensured trust, let alone peace. While history does not repeat itself and comparisons are, by definition, odious, it is difficult not to draw parallels between Northeast Asia in the early 21st century and Europe in the first half of the 20th. It’s probably the case that if the economy seriously deteriorated, as it did in 1930s, that this would exacerbate nationalist tensions between Northeast Asian powers, but it is not at all obvious that if economic situation were to considerably improve, especially in Japan, that this would diffuse the nationalist tensions. Economics alone, it seems, cannot trump emotions. Whereas Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourists once flocked to one another’s countries, there has been recently a significant decrease in traffic. Furthermore, while the “pop-scene,” encompassing Canto-pop, Mando-pop, J-pop and K-pop, created increasingly united Northeast Asian regional musical space, nationalist backlashes have also arisen; Japanese NHK popular new year song festival has this year eliminated Korean singers. That is ominous. As the forces of xenophobia are irrational, it is difficult to know what measures need to be taken beyond banal platitudes. Perhaps the first step is for the international community to recognize the perilousness of Northeast Asian geopolitics. If the fuse goes off on Northeast Asia powder keg, consequences will be immediate, global, dramatic. If, on other hand, global governance would improve, so might governance in Northeast Asia.