A summit that matters greatlyWith China emerging as the new superpower on the world stage, everyone’s attention is focused on the U.S.-China summit to be held in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. The meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao is expected to establish a new framework for the 21st century world order. The peace and stability of the globe will also depend on whether the two giants can come up with a cooperative paradigm for the prosperity of the world, or whether they will slip into a Cold War-like confrontation like the one between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.
First of all, the summit will have a great influence on the future of Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula, as both countries have different, and sometimes competing, interests in political, economic and security issues in East Asia, which is rapidly emerging as the biggest economic bloc in the world. One of the biggest agenda items for the summit is, of course, how to deal with North Korea’s nuclear programs and shut them down as soon as possible.
The thorny nuclear issue is a relic of the Cold War. Despite increased exchanges and economic cooperation between the South and the North, as we have witnessed with the Kaesong Industrial Complex, political and military confrontations have also intensified over the years due to the North’s anachronistic survival strategy, which flatly resists the tidal changes in the world by clinging to a weird ideology of building a socialist state based on autocratic rule. Rather than joining the international society, the North is engrossed in threatening the security of the peninsula and its neighbors by flaunting its new nuclear power status.
The North’s sinking of our Cheonan warship and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island last year are emblems of the North’s outdated ideology. If such a standoff gets to an unsustainable level, that could prove a disaster to world peace, let alone wreaking havoc on our economy, for which China is the largest trading partner.
If the two leaders do nothing to alter the North’s outmoded survival strategy, it will be the same as setting up a huge obstacle in the path of co-prosperity in the region. It would also be very inhumane if they would leave millions of starving people unaided while promoting each other’s economic affluence.
In order to pave the way toward a new world order, Obama and Hu should overcome their differences over North Korea and come up with desirable ways to guide the North onto an entirely new path.