What Regional Stability Really Means for the Asia-Pacific
Weekly Newsletters

What Regional Stability Really Means for the Asia-Pacific



21 June 2024

This week at APLN, Piper Campbell argues that the United States is becoming an increasingly incidental provider of regional stability in the Asia-Pacific, Adam Mount writes on the value of No First Use, John Carlson urges the international community to act to reduce nuclear risks, and we share a Korean translation of our recent paper by Kim Joon Hyung on Korean strategic autonomy.

As always, we share recent activities from our network, including analysis on Putin’s visit to North Korea, the Korea-China-Japan trilateral summit, and China’s nuclear expansion.

In this new Special Report, Piper Campbell, former head of the US mission to ASEAN, argues that the United States is becoming an increasingly incidental provider of regional stability in Southeast Asia. Instead of being a deliberate and proactive leader in maintaining stability in the region, the US role has become largely peripheral, partly due to major shifts in US foreign policy thinking in recent years.

Campbell identifies three US priorities in Southeast Asia: maintaining economic access, ensuring freedom of movement, and not ceding the region to China. To achieve these goals, the report argues that the United States must do better in establishing mutual understanding with ASEAN countries and making commitments to regional stability. 

Read the Special Report

No First Use has its challenges: China’s ongoing expansion and modernisation of its nuclear arsenal brings its No First Use (NFU) policy into question, whereas the United States is unlikely to publicly commit to the declaratory policy. 

In this new report, Adam Mount argues that despite its limitations, NFU can still play an important role in risk reduction for two reasons: first, if the US will not publicly declare NFU, it can still pursue it in an internal policy; second, bilateral discussions on NFU provides the US and China with a platform for discussing nuclear risks and building greater understanding about one another’s nuclear doctrines.

Read the Special Report

On May 31, we released a report by Korean National Assemblyman Kim Joon Hyung on how South Korea can protect its geopolitical independence by pursuing strategic autonomy in its foreign policy. Today, we are pleased to share the Korean translation of this Special Report.

In the report, Assemblyman Kim, who was recently appointed to South Korea’s Foreign Affairs Committee, argues that South Korea should take on an active role in de-escalating the China-US conflict in Northeast Asia. He invites South Korea to engage in “proactive diplomacy” by grounding its foreign policy in seven principles informed by strategic autonomy. 

Read the Special Report [KOR]
Read the Special Report [ENG]

“Nuclear disarmament is not an unrealistic aspiration. Rather, it is unrealistic to believe our luck in avoiding nuclear war can last indefinitely.”

John Carlson

In this week’s APLN Korea Times column, John Carlson warns that the world needs urgent action to reduce the risk of nuclear war and establish a process to achieve nuclear disarmament. He discusses the victims of nuclear war, the legality of nuclear weapons under international law, the challenges of nuclear disarmament, and what the international community can do to pursue a world without nuclear weapons. 

Read the Korea Times

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Renewing Southeast Asia’s Conflict Management Capacity

Marty Natalegawa, APLN Chair, wrote a commentary on Southeast Asia’s conflict management capacity and argued that it is pertinent to raise the question of why current efforts to address the situation in Myanmar and the South China Sea have not been invoked and fully utilised, and to urgently place diplomacy and dialogue front and centre.

S. Korea-China Cooperation Still Has a Long Way to Go

Chung-in Moon, APLN Vice Chair, published his monthly column in Hankyoreh on the Korea-China-Japan trilateral summit, highlighting that there is a critical need to fundamentally rethink Korea-China relations from a pragmatic perspective.

Putin’s Visit to N. Korea and S. Korea’s Diplomatic Strategy

Eunjung Lim, Associate Professor of the Division of International Studies at Kongju National University (KNU), was interviewed by Arirang News, where she commented on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to North Korea and assessed its impact on regional affairs in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Moon Jae-In’s Defense Doublethink

Cheong Wook-Sik, Director of Peace Network and Director of the Hankyoreh Institute of Peace, reviewed former South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s memoir, assessing the Moon administration’s doublethink in advocating for a strong national defense while aiming for inter-Korean dialogue and denuclearization.

Putin’s Visit to Vietnam: When the Past Weighs on the Present

Hoang Thi Ha, Senior Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, pointed out that Putin’s visit to Vietnam underscores that pragmatism is not the sole or primary guiding principle in Vietnam’s foreign policy; factors such as risk aversion, path dependency, and sentimental attachments to a foreign power also influence the Vietnamese elite’s decisions.

What Are China’s Nuclear Weapons For?

Tong Zhao, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote a response to Ashley Tellis’ comments on his essay in Foreign Affairs, highlighting that understanding the motivations behind China’s nuclear expansion is essential to anticipating future nuclear development, deployment and employment strategies, and Beijing’s potential responses to U.S. countermeasures.

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