Monday, September 29, 2008

Beijing's 'North Korea' card no ace

A problem that haunts many “experts” in academia and government is that, by virtue of their expertise on a subject, they tend to lose sight of the bigger picture, as if events in one area could somehow operate in a vacuum and separately from external factors. So ingrained is specialization in academia and intelligence agencies, where topics (“terrorism,” “counter-proliferation,” “China” and so on) are put into boxes, that school often feel compelled to offer courses on regional analysis, as if to remind students that connections exist between the principal subject under observation and the rest of the world.

It was with such thoughts in mind that I wrote "Beijing's 'North Korea' card no ace," published today in the Taipei Times. In my article, I make a case for the influence the six-party North Korean disarmament talks has had on Washington’s and Japan’s policies on Taiwan, and how Pyongyang’s apparent decision to end the talks are resume nuclear work could impact on Washington’s and Tokyo’s approach to the Taiwan Strait. I also take another step back and look at the possible implications of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow (a party to the North Korean talks), the election of conservative Taro Aso as Japanese prime minister and the November elections in the US — all of which point to the conclusion that the era of diplomacy in Northeast Asia may soon come to an end, which is certain to have implications, beneficial or detrimental, for Taiwan.

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