[EDITORIALS]An open regional channelThe Northeast Asia Trilateral Forum, a meeting of 30 prominent figures from China, Japan and South Korea, has opened. In China, the group is called “Northeast Asia Experts Group,” and the Japanese call it “Japan-China-Korea Sages Conference.”
The members held a launching ceremony in Seoul and began a heated debate on the three countries’ visions for cooperation and mutual existence yesterday. Since communication channels among the three countries’ leaders are currently blocked because of conflicts over differing historical perceptions, it is meaningful and timely for the former senior government leaders, intellectuals and businessmen to have candid discussions representing non-governmental views.
The three countries have different geographical characteristics ― continental, peninsular and archipelagic ― but the people have been living as neighbors for thousands of years. The three countries have shared a common historical legacy as they lived in the same cultural area represented by Chinese characters and Confusianism, cooperating and conducting exchanges at times, as well as fighting bitterly at other times.
With the waves of globalization and regionalization in the 21st century, the three countries have already formed an inseparable community economically and culturally. The three countries’ gross domestic products together amount to 17 percent of the world’s. Their trade volume comprises 15 percent of the world’s. Depending on their choices, Northeast Asia can become a center of peace and prosperity, or it will be pushed to the outer rim of the world, where conflicts and confrontations will continue.
Today, Northeast Asia’s future is adrift amid China’s rapid expansion, the reinforced alliance between the Untied States and Japan, Japan’s regressive historical view and the insecurity of the Korean Peninsula. At this critical juncture, it is extremely promising that the three countries’ senior politicians, scholars and businessmen, who are relatively free to express their positions, have jointly sought a desirable direction for Northeast Asian cooperation.
During the discussion, participants clearly shared the awareness that cooperation among the three countries is a precondition for Asia’s peace and prosperity. We hope the Northeast Asia Trilateral Forum will become established as a private forum that presents a vision and a roadmap for Northeast Asia’s cooperation with the spirit of focusing on agreements first, leaving aside the differences. The governments of the three countries should pay attention to the advice of the 30 sages.