On August 8, I had the opportunity to attend the second China-South Korea strategic dialogue, which brought together scholars and diplomats from both countries. During the discussions, I got the feeling that the two countries’ representatives held almost opposing views on the contemporary roles of the U.S.-South Korea alliance. Chinese scholars believed that as a legacy of the Cold War, the continuation of U.S.-South Korea alliance was one of the main factors for tensions on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia. In contrast, Korean scholars see the alliance as a linchpin for peace and stability on the peninsula and in Asia generally.
Evaluating the functions of the post-Cold War alliance system in Asia is important if we are to understand the roles of the U.S. in Asia, relations between the U.S. and Asian countries and relations among Asian countries. My own view is that U.S. Asian alliances are not only the product of history, but even more a reflection of the realities of current international politics in Asia. Certainly, the alliances have played a positive role in humanitarian disasters, preventing Japanese remilitarization and maintaining the balance of power on the Korean peninsula. But even as we recognize the positive elements, we should also be concerned about the growing adverse effects, which can be generalized as the following four points. READ MORE