Forum addresses security, current affairs

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Forum addresses security, current affairs


From left, Moon Chung-in, a professor at Yonsei University; Michael Green, a professor at Georgetown University; Song Min-soon, the former minister of foreign affairs and trade; Richard Armitage, president of Armitage International and the former U.S. deputy secretary of state; and Park Cheol-hee, a professor at Seoul National University, hold discussions on stage during the first session of the JoongAng Ilbo-CSIS Forum. The event was held Wednesday at the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul. By Oh Jong-taek

The world’s brightest minds and experts on foreign affairs and international studies gathered in Seoul for the fifth JoongAng Ilbo-CSIS Forum, held on Wednesday at the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul.

The annual forum - jointly launched by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based policy think tank, and the JoongAng Ilbo - was attended by about 300 participants, including leading experts, diplomats and university students.

Attendees discussed foreign affairs and security issues in Northeast Asia as well as the role of the United States.

Since 1962, CSIS has been dedicated to finding ways to sustain American prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world. After 52 years, CSIS has become one of the world’s pre-eminent international policy institutions focused on defense and security; regional stability; and transnational challenges ranging from energy and climate to global development and economic integration.

Since its successful inception in 2011, the forum has gathered the most distinguished foreign affairs and security experts from the United States and Korea.

Under the theme “The Next 70 Years of Peace in Asia,” the forum featured speakers such as John Hamre, president, CEO and Pritzker Chair of CSIS; former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, president of Armitage International; and Victor Cha, senior adviser and Korea Chair of CSIS who is also a professor at Georgetown University.

Participants took part in three sessions throughout the day: “50 Years of the Asian Paradox: New Opportunities and Challenges,” “65 Years Hence, Still a Fragile Peace on the Peninsula” and “70 Years of Postwar Liberal Order.”

Hong Seok-hyun, the chairman of the JoongAng Ilbo and its affiliate TV channel JTBC, signaled the beginning of the event with his opening address.

“The ‘big four’ powers, namely the United States, China, Japan and Russia, all have vested interests in East Asia, but solutions to ongoing issues cannot be reached by the big four alone,” he said. “The Middle Powers, including Korea, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, can and should play crucial roles in securing peace and prosperity in the region.”

Casting questions about the factors that could change the next 70 years of peace in Asia, Hong presumed that the relationship between the United States and China would likely have the biggest impact on the future and emphasized that Northeast Asian nations must work together to reconcile historical issues.

“We have gathered once again in Seoul, not simply for the sake of being here, but to make the most of the opportunity to pool and share what we know and what we have learned for the sake of peace in Asia in the decades to come,” Hong said.

CSIS Chairman Hamre then took the microphone and delivered welcoming remarks. Predicting that the two Koreas would definitely be unified within the next 70 years, he said a unified Korea would “become the sixth-largest economy in the world” and likely be “on the UN Security Council as a permanent member without veto power.”

In the following keynote speech, Robert B. Zoellick, the chairman of Goldman Sachs’ International Advisors, the former president of the World Bank Group and the former U.S. deputy secretary of state, came to the stage.

“Today, Korea is sensitive to being squeezed between a high-tech Japan and a China that is seeking to move up the value chain of production,” he said.

“Korea will be best positioned if it can combine two initiatives: First, to develop fully Korea’s own human and institutional resources in an open and dynamic system; and second, to multiply the strands of Korea’s global network, both public and private.”

The first session, “50 Years of the Asian Paradox: New Opportunities and Challenges,” was moderated by Professor Moon Chung-in of Yonsei University, and mainly discussed the multipolar concept of power, which Chairman Hong also mentioned, and other sensitive issues like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the deployment of the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system.

“There are a lot of security issues that are really not being addressed, and I think that one of the tasks is to move the discussion from territorial issues into an organized multilateral structure,” said Francis Fukuyama, a Stanford University professor, in his speech at the beginning of the session.

Armitage delivered his opinions about the arms race in the region.

“The United States understands Korea’s raw emotions on Japan, but the arms race began in Asia not because of Japan but because of China,” he said. “But the United States does not regard China as an enemy and cooperate on various issues.”

In the second session in the afternoon, entitled “65 Years Hence, Still a Fragile Peace on the Peninsula,” Cha claimed that the notion of unification in recent years was seen as “challenging and costly,” though it would be beneficial in the end.

Chung Chong-wook, the vice chairman of the Presidential Committee for Unification Preparation, also stayed optimistic about the circumstances surrounding North Korea.

“Evidence is shallow, but North Korean reports and government materials indicate that the country’s economic performance and the assumption of power by Kim Jong-un have been quite successful,” Chung said.

The last session, “70 Years of Postwar Liberal Order” mainly discussed the sustainability of the U.S.-led world order. Hamre stayed optimistic, saying the liberal progressive representation model would win over the authoritarian mobilization model, which mostly ended after the Soviet Union fell apart but was still preferred by Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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