Most discussions pertaining to the nuclear proliferation and reunification issues on the Korean Peninsula privilege the position and role played by the United States. In the first volume of its kind, this collection of essays presents the challenges faced by the Koreas against the context of the changing relations between China and Japan. Strategically nestled between these political giants, the Korean Peninsula has traditionally been “seen” as a sphere of influence by Tokyo and Beijing. Regardless of the escalating difficulties in recent Sino-Japanese relations, this volume argues that avoiding all-out conflict and ensuring a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula are certainly strategic goals that both China and Japan still share. Neither China nor Japan wishes to be dragged into a war started by North Korean belligerence, South Korean aspirations or American adventurism. However, despite alternating between political pressure and diplomatic efforts, Japan and China have found it extremely difficult to guide the tone and direction of politics in intra-Korea affairs. Conversely, both South and North Korea have been extremely adept at fending off any perceived attempts to influence their domestic and foreign policies. Pyongyang and Seoul have shown remarkable political gumption and diplomatic skill, not only resisting Great Power influences but even managing to advance their political agendas in this very tempestuous neighbourhood. One fundamental question this volume addresses is whether the developments on the Korean Peninsula could and should be considered independently from developments in Sino-Japanese relations. Through addressing different dimensions of the interaction between the Koreas, China and Japan in the 21st Century, this volume makes a valuable contribution to study of the international relations of Northeast Asia.
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Victor Teo is Assistant Professor at the Department of Japanese Studies and the Modern China Studies Program, the Faculty of Arts of the University of Hong Kong, and is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. His primary research interests lie in the broad field of international relations of the Asia-Pacific. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2004 and subsequently obtained his PhD from the International Relations Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science. From 2004 to 2009, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, published by Wiley-Blackwell. He is also author and co-editor of three books: The United States between China and Japan (2013), Southeast Asia between China and Japan (2012) and Reconceptualising the Divide: Identity, Memory and Nationalism in Sino-Japanese Relations (2010).Lee Geun is Associate Dean and Professor of International Relations at the Graduate School of International Studies and Director of the Institute of International Affairs (IIA), Seoul National University. He is the Editor of Journal of International and Area Studies. He was an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Korea in 1997–2000. He is also an advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Member for Strategic Policy Initiative (SPI) for Future Korea–US Alliance, Ministry of Defense of Korea, Policy Specialist Committee Member, National Security Council (NSC), Consulting Professor of Government Transition Team (Foreign and Trade Policy) and Advisory Committee Member of the United Nations Association of Korea. His writings have appeared in a wide variety of media in and outside of Korea, and his English publications include: “Economic Interdependence, Identity Change, and Issue-oriented Balancing in Northeast Asia” in The Future of US-Korea-Japan Relations, “The Rise of China and Korea’s China Policy” in The Rise of China and a Changing East Asian Order, and “Environment Security in East Asia: The Regional Environmental Security Complex Approach” in Asian Perspective.