Washington Insights: May 2014 (Part 1)

This is the first of two parts of this issue’s Washington Insights. It consists of some reactions to late April seminars in Washington and a synopsis of a panel discussion in Philadelphia on March 30. Part 2 summarizes another discussion at a second panel at the Association of Asian Studies meetings in Philadelphia.

With many politicians and observers complaining that Obama was failing to provide strong leadership in international relations, his more assertive moves toward China, Russia, and North Korea in the spring of 2014 were closely watched and intensely debated in Washington, DC. In most discussions the starting assumption was new, assertive behavior by one or another of these countries has provoked his response. Many took for granted that weakness in responding to one crisis would reverberate in more aggressive testing of Obama in another crisis. The conclusions proposed ranged from: more clarity on red lines to avoid misjudgments; more unambiguous reassurances to allies and partners; more steps to reinvigorate the full range of US power; more coordination with allies and partners to avoid any surprises; and more reinforcement of defense cooperation and interoperability. Security drew scrutiny beyond anything seen since the Cold War. With TPP negotiations not at the point of a breakthrough, Obama’s late April visit to four states was mainly about security. Of his stops, the most attention centered on Tokyo, as did the follow-up discussions.

After Obama’s visit to Japan, there was increasing discussion of how this alliance is likely to be strengthened in the coming period. If prior to the visit interest hinged on mutual trust and even US disappointment, once Obama had given his clear personal endorsement of the Security Treaty applying to the Senkaku Islands administered by Japan, few doubted the level of trust. As in the logic about the effects of showing weakness to Russia having emboldened it to use coercion to reestablish the Soviet Union to the extent possible, commentators argued that deferring to China on this territorial dispute would be a dramatic indicator of a change in the balance of power putting Japan in a deferential position in the future. Similarly, the next provocation by North Korea, which many identify as the biggest and most immediate threat to the stability of the region, posing an unpredictable danger, was viewed as a critical test, not only for US-ROK relations but also for US-Japan-ROK triangular relations.

At stake, one often heard, is the international order, now under considerable threat from Russia, but also imperiled by China and North Korea. Prospects of persuading these countries had lost much of their luster, leading to a stress on better deterrence to make clear the costs of aggression. One persistent message was to do all that is possible to encourage states to prioritize national interests, not national identities. Yet, appeals for each country to make a transition from national identities in their bilateral relations fell largely on deaf ears. Surprisingly, whereas in early 2014 the greatest concern centered on the Japan-South Korea identity gap, the sole source of hope in the spring for US diplomatic success in the region was this relationship. Abe was showing more restraint, and Park was putting more emphasis on security—both at the strong insistence of Obama. As the Sino-Russian identity gap also seemed to have been eclipsed by realist concerns or perhaps to have actually been much smaller than many had earlier surmised, the region was left with more polarization over national identities as well as over openly declared security interests.

To the extent that meant more emphasis on realism, it did not necessarily reduce the high level of tensions in the region. Indeed, as US defense ties to Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines were strengthening, there was talk of Chinese-Russian military ties drawing closer too. Thus, the Ukraine crisis was triggering a sharper divide between the United States and Russia, which led to Russia appealing to China for closer strategic coordination. Similarly, the growing threat of North Korea was triggering a US push to strengthen the US-ROK alliance, which, in turn, appeared to China to tighten the cordon of missile defense around it. Although the Sino-US gap centered mostly on the East and South China seas, it was also being exacerbated by the behavior of these other countries. The security dilemma was deepening, to the consternation of commentators in Washington before and after Obama’s travels.

While hopes for eventually finding regional security architecture inclusive of the United States and China kept being aired, a common opinion was that China, as the rising power in the region, has a duty to reassure other states of its intentions, even if it is unrealistic to expect China to be a “responsible stakeholder” accepting of the status quo. China is not doing so, which leads its neighbors to press harder for the United States to fulfill its duty of reassuring them of the stability of its commitment. After all, the US presence has been the fundamental basis of regional stability, and even as others recognize the need to accommodate China, they want the foundation for a larger security framework to remain an unwavering US presence, adjusted to meet changing circumstances. Thus, a wider alliance system, going beyond hubs and spokes to allow for greater triangularity and perhaps more, is a shared aspiration. To the extent that China insists on changing the current regional order in a manner that challenges this US presence, it is inviting polarization, beginning with Japan’s perceptions of a new cold war and the high-profile build-up of its US alliance.

While many perceived irreversible polarization with Japan and the United States on one side and China on the other, some still saw glimmers of multipolarity or a shift in China’s course that would lead to a reversal of recent trends. This could occur as a result of a tougher Chinese posture toward North Korea after its next provocation, encouraging joint action with South Korea and the United States. It might also result from diplomatic flexibility by other countries, such as South Korea or further talks between Japan and Russia in defiance of the overall trend. Advocates of outreach to reverse the trend could be heard in DC, but the main thrust was greater deterrence to showcase the costs of continuing on the same course. There was agreement that if a few years earlier China’s neighbors were mostly advocating a cautious US policy to combine hedging with engagement, now they had tilted further toward deterrence.

The spotlight at the end of April fell on the Japan-US alliance both at the Tadashi Yamamoto Memorial Seminar at the Council on Foreign Relations on The United States and Japan in Asia and at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA US-Japan Security Forum. It was noted that Japan recognizes that it must be able to defend itself and to pull its weight in the alliance, because of both a newly threatening environment and US appeals for greater burden sharing and a more robust military alliance. One Japanese commentator referred to “encroaching expansionism” by China, backed by economic as well as military power and aimed not only at islands identified by Beijing as China’s but also at the US naval presence. In this view, the slogan a “new type of major power relations” is not a confidence-building measure to find common ground, but a deceptive stratagem for China to be ceded control of the Western Pacific through a kind of G2, bad for Japan. No hope is left for reacting in any way other than balancing Chinese power. Whereas Japanese are not educated on a diet of anti-Chinese stereotypes, rising Chinese nationalism means ever more demonization of Japan. The response under Abe has been to raise the morale of the Japanese people that Japan is coming back, to restore Japan’s power in myriad ways, and to boost not only the US alliance but also security ties with partners—ASEAN, Australia, India, and South Korea. While embattled, Japan is not feeling isolated.

Some react to such statements by Japanese of inevitable polarization by arguing that Japan and other states are succumbing to the illusion of multipolarity when the real trend is for a G2 to take shape on terms far different from ceding half of the Pacific to China. However convoluted the process, the United States and China will grope for common ground, avoiding zero-sum illusions and recognizing interdependence. While many are worried about the parallel to the run-up to WWI, the centenary of which is now on people’s minds, whereas Japanese analysts point to Abe’s success in rallying Southeast Asian states behind Japan and to the Obama-Abe statement recognizing the region as a joint strategic concern, critics insist that states in this region—with few exceptions—want good relations with both Japan and China, and regard the Japanese posture as self-defeating. Another response is to argue that Abe is out of step with most Japanese, his open-ended approach to collective self-defense is being steadily narrowed in the Diet, and he is likely to overstep again over history issues, leading to a backlash abroad if not at home. Having appointed to his cabinet and surrounded himself with some of the most obsessive politicians on national identity themes, especially related to Korea, he will find it hard to stick to realism. Yet, others see the driving forces of popular nationalism, fueled by Abe’s leadership and external assertiveness, as persistent: inward-looking attitudes due to stagnation of the economy; increased insecurity and sense of unfairness due to globalization; and loss of status to South Korea as well as China. With no change in these forces in sight, the expectation is that Abe will still be able to rally support behind his policies.

What is blatantly clear is that Washington circles are delighted with Abe’s moves to change Japan’s security thinking and policies. In this respect, they consider Obama’s late April summit with Abe a success. Both countries consider the security treaty to be the cornerstone of regional peace and stability. Looking back to historic failures of communications or clarification of strategic intentions, as in the start of WWII and the Korean War, observers see the US-Japan alliance filling the gap left by no new world or regional order materializing after the end of the Cold War. The rest of the trip by Obama draws high marks as well for reaffirming US commitments in a tense region and in the face of threats to freedom of navigation. While South Korea still is seen in Japan as irresolute on matters of security (including intelligence sharing) and ASEAN states are not considered to be unified in pressing for a code of conduct, Obama’s efforts are considered commendable. Now that Russia has called into doubt the post-Cold War era assumption that great powers no longer use coercion to alter national boundaries, Obama’s trip is seen as a firm warning to China that if it were to follow suit, military conflict would ensue. Abe’s contribution is much appreciated.

With security back at the center of attention, there is new interest in the particulars of the regional military balance. Experts discuss projections for China’s military buildup and what is required to maintain the edge at sea and in the air. There is also much interest in the intricacies of Japanese politics in 2014 as new goals are reviewed, compromises are reached on what is allowed in collective self-defense, and joint defense guidelines with the United States are eventually approved. After repeated US frustration at assistance Japan claimed it could not provide in situations since the end of the Cold War, there is a sense that the time finally has come in 2014.

Abe’s call for an equal partnership alliance is welcomed as an indication that Japan is now preparing to take more responsibility rather than being what some called a free rider, but Japanese may have a different interpretation. There has been little word on what Japan wants apart from more firmness toward China as a signal of greater equality. Some wonder if Japanese revisionism may enter the picture, as in greater resistance to US appeals for restraint toward South Korea. If “equal” means less readiness to work closely together on regional strategy, then it may not.

Synopsis of the Discussion at Panel 4, “New Thinking on Diplomacy toward North Korea,” at the Association of Asian Studies annual meetings on March 30, based on papers to be published by the Korean Economic Institute in the early summer. For a link to the video of the panel, please click here.

Authors: Shin-wha Lee, South Korea’s “Trustpolitik” Diplomatic Strategy,” Zhu Feng, “China’s Diplomacy Strategy after the Purge of Jang Song-Thaek,” Mark Fitzpatrick, “US Diplomacy toward North Korea.” Moderator: Nicholas Hamisevicz.

Recent developments have increased the stakes for diplomacy toward North Korea. Given China’s cool reception of Kim Jong-un’s leadership and the purge of the one leader considered most likely to proceed in a manner welcomed by China, various observers and officials have sought to step up diplomacy with China in search of a common approach. Considering the accumulated frustration with the US “strategic patience” toward North Korea, as its threat capacity grows, there has been talk of more vigorous US diplomacy, although often this appears to mean more insistence on China’s cooperation than actual diplomacy with North Korea. Meanwhile, interest keeps growing in what really are China’s intentions as well as how does it intend to proceed in diplomacy with the path to renewed Six-Party Talks apparently blocked. As Japan and Russia have slipped into a marginal role—the former concentrating on economic diplomacy with the North with little to show for it, and the latter, after a secret meeting with North Korea early in the year, stressing the abduction issue in its diplomacy with the North, leading to one meeting of Yokota Megumi’s parents with their grandchild but little else—China, the United States, and South Korea are left as the three countries whose diplomacy must now be watched.

There is no doubt that since Park Geun-hye became president, the center of planning and debate over what diplomatic approach should be taken has been Seoul. It starts with the assumption that Roh Moo-hyun was too soft on Pyongyang, failing as well in finding a diplomatic approach satisfactory to both Washington and Beijing, while Lee Myung-bak was too hard on Pyongyang, while also failing to rally both powers behind his policies. That may explain why Park has chosen a “Goldilocks” approach, not only for “trustpolitik” with Kim Jong-un, but also for avoiding again alienating either Beijing, which is wary of pressure against Pyongyang, and Washington, which is wary of engagement without preconditions. In 2014, Park continues to pursue a delicate balance acceptable to the two powers and at least sustaining the pretense that Pyongyang may come to the diplomatic table. The panel discussion began with South Korea’s thinking about the diplomatic path ahead, since it is the driving force.

Solidifying ties with Obama in her first overseas trip as president, Park made the primary target of her diplomatic initiative in 2013-2014 Xi Jinping. In South Korea there has been a continuous debate over the efficacy of this quest. Is the upbeat mood conveyed in statements emanating from their meetings an indicator of diplomatic progress? Are widely noted qualifications and reservations in how the Chinese characterize their agreements evidence that diplomacy has little prospect? The Chinese stance on diplomacy was addressed next in the discussion. This proved controversial since the evidence is contradictory and many are skeptical of what Zhu Feng had to say at the panel about possible changes in Chinese thinking means for analysis of the broader decision-making apparatus inside China.

A third perspective centered on the prospects for US diplomacy. This is proceeding in the wake of Park’s initiatives and Xi’s responses as well as in light of efforts to directly sound out Xi and officials working under him. Recently, the US tone toward China’s relations with North Korea has become more critical. Even when Beijing warns Pyongyang, as it did recently by stating it “will never allow war or chaos,” its continuing economic support and limited coordination in preparing for the next provocation have failed to instill confidence abroad. This is a sign of lower expectations for diplomacy, which became a subject of the audience discussion.

Consideration of Park’s new diplomacy started with attention to the preconditions she has consistently set for North Korea and acknowledgment that it was unlikely to succeed. Whether trustpolitik or her Northeast Asia Peace and Security Initiative as well as her recent enthusiasm for reunification as a “jackpot,” these proposals must depend on North Korea. Moreover, it was made clear that ties to Seoul are not the priority for Pyongyang; it is using them in its efforts to deal with Washington. Only if there are expectations that Washington might be encouraged to respond favorably to Pyongyang or, alternatively, that a gap will open between Seoul and Washington that might prove useful. With neither of those prospects in sight, Pyongyang keeps its focus solely on Beijing, while feeling no reservations about demonizing Seoul. As a result, South Korea is left feigning a proactive diplomacy, when it really is reactive. In Dresden on March 28, Park set forth principles for unification, striving to regain the initiative, but Pyongyang dismissed them, and they have not resonated in China.

In these circumstances of essentially an impasse in diplomacy while all countries are awaiting North Korea’s next provocation—perhaps a fourth nuclear test—what are Seoul’s diplomatic options? One possibility is for it to try to break the impasse by offering something to Pyongyang that would restart diplomacy, hoping that either the United States would be drawn into the process or that a wedge would be driven between Seoul and Washington. Park has refused to take this path. Another option is to agree on a good cop, bad cop strategy with the Obama administration, dividing the roles of the two allies in the hope that would pique Pyongyang’s interest in Seoul rather than whet its appetite for playing on the differences. Recognition that such old ideas are of no use leads to the inescapable conclusion that if diplomacy has any chance it has to go through China. That has become the mainstream view in Seoul, as in Washington, and it has led to moments of hope, but more often to frustration.

It is generally understood in Seoul that China will not support unification if the US influence on the peninsula is strong, but that does not rule out cooperation against actions that lead to regional destabilization and even agreement on steps to make the situation more manageable. With North Korea flexing its military muscles, China may move beyond offering incentives for it to join talks to applying pressure against its belligerent behavior. With this in mind, Park has sought to cultivate personal ties to Xi Jinping, considering close coordination with Obama a positive factor rather than a reason for Xi to keep his distance. The new momentum to boost triangular relations with the United States and Japan introduces a factor that could be seen in China in two ways. Some are concerned that such a tilt back toward Japan will anger China’s leaders, who are obsessed with isolating Japan, and make them less helpful with Park’s diplomatic initiatives. Others calculate that China has in the past sought to avoid stronger military triangularity and responded with more pressure on North Korea, and that this could happen again. With Japan exploring an independent path to diplomacy with North Korea, albeit with the abduction issue in the forefront, the new momentum in diplomacy between Seoul and Tokyo also can prevent sending mixed messages to Pyongyang. Seoul seeks to keep the initiative in multilateral diplomacy, but it waits for Beijing’s decisions on bilateral relations with Pyongyang. In the meantime, Washington is pressing for new trilateral cooperation with Tokyo.

In striving to broaden her approach to a multilateral security initiative, Park now is following in the footsteps of all Korean presidents over the past quarter century and seeking to preempt an understanding among two or more great powers that would be imposed over the heads of Seoul. Her initiative is still vague on specifics, starting with soft security and advancing step-by-step through increased dialogue. Yet, when she adds to the mix diplomatic efforts to press North Korea on its horrible human rights record, following the report of the UN Human Rights Commission, and to seek more active planning for reunification, she is putting in even greater doubt further cooperation from China. This remains the essential dilemma of diplomacy regarding North Korea: to assuage Chinese concerns with caution or to set them aside boldly.

The discussion proceeded with consideration of new diplomacy possibly emerging in China. Recognizing the existence of a debate in the United States over whether China is or is not changing its approach to North Korea, the discussion started with the assumption that it is, indeed, changing, and sought to explain why. First, the fact that China has new leaders, more united and decisive, was mentioned. In the past, there was a powerful tendency toward inertia since, after all, the Korean War has great emotional significance as the wellspring of Chinese patriotism. Personally, Xi has demonstrated that he is a decisive strong man, nationalist but, we were told, also pragmatic. As evidence of the impact of the new leadership, diplomacy has been shifted from the International Department and Wang Jiarui, which long operated as an authoritative voice, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This means that instead of party-to-party relations state-to-state relations are the rule, signaling to Pyongyang that ideology and traditional ties are no longer driving relations. In the past, North Korean made requests for assistance through party channels and visits of officials, but now those requests go through diplomatic venues and face greater scrutiny. The dearth of high-level political contacts and the cool treatment shown to Kim Jong-un’s envoys in comparison to the warm welcome for Park Geun-hye last June is evidence of the new diplomacy. There have been rumors that since the execution of Jang Song-thaek, Kim Jong-un wanted to visit China and give a personal explanation, but China has put preconditions on such a visit tied to advancing denuclearization.

A second reason for a change of course is that China is recalculating the balance between stability and denuclearization. It wants to restart the Six-Party Talks on the basis of North Korean acknowledgment that it will take steps to denuclearize. Using leverage to that end, China is withholding gifts, which were offered in the context of high-level meetings, to encourage North Korea to cooperate. Rather than satisfy new requests, it has presumably frozen the level of assistance since 2013. This is linked to more active diplomacy with the United States and South Korea as well as support for the UN Security Council after the third nuclear test and in case of another test. It is understood that the North Korean leader is angrier at China and is not likely to give up the nuclear weapons on which he depends. This results in erratic behavior, grasping for any opening possible, even of late for diplomacy with Japan. North Korea is likely to keep the world on edge, Chinese analysts clearly understand.

The most widely discussed questions on the panel were how strong is the consensus in China for new diplomacy and how far would this diplomacy go in response to new provocations. This led to a discussion of the geopolitical reasoning in China either to stay the course or to change directions. It was understood that China’s bottom line is to not abandon North Korea, considering that it is useful for China’s foreign policy. If Korean War memories and their importance for the desired national identity are no longer as salient—an observation that was greeted with some skepticism, given the heavy weight placed on national identity under Xi—then China’s geopolitical logic dictates that China must keep the oil flowing and prop up the regime. Despite new leadership in Beijing and more stress on denuclearization, this logic is not receding.

Indeed, the thrust of much of the discussion was that China’s geopolitical strategy is likely to lead to more support for North Korea, not less. China’s failure to apply real pressure drives the United States, South Korea, and Japan to increase their military preparedness and triangularity, which then reinforces the geopolitical case for more assistance to North Korea. Whereas earlier some in China may have seen a chance to use North Korea to split Seoul and Washington, sober judgment makes it clear that this possibility does not now exist. Instead, a different rationale applies with greater emphasis on Sino-US relations. To the extent that China is hopeful about the “new type of major power relations,” it is more willing to cooperate in dealing with North Korea. Precisely, this thinking was worrisome to many, since that concept is dividing the two countries. China is becoming more insistent on a narrow interpretation of it, centered on acceptance of China’s “core interests” and policies in the East China and South China seas, and the United States is pushing back with a different view of this concept unacceptable to China. As tensions mount, it would follow, China will be less cooperative in its diplomacy toward North Korea, even after new provocations.

Whether China prioritizes historical legacies, geographical proximity, or geopolitical balancing, its bottom line is that it is unprepared psychologically to accept Seoul’s view on diplomacy with Pyongyang, no matter how frustrated it may feel. It may be willing to accept unification in conditions of a much-diminished US presence and a trajectory of Korea drawing much closer to China, but Sino-US relations are likely to matter more than Sino-ROK relations. Geopolitics coupled with the sense that China is faced with a challenge to its national identity focuses its attention on US relations. Yet, if there is confidence in Seoul and these broader conditions are met, one view holds that China would not be a barrier to reunification. Yet, these preconditions are so improbable that commentators doubted that there really is new thinking about diplomacy in China. A big gap in suggestions about new thinking is the absence of serious consideration about how to respond to new provocations as North Korea grows increasingly dangerous. US thinking about diplomacy, aired at the panel, was not optimistic that China’s supposed new thinking is likely to materialize.

The discussion of US thinking about new diplomacy started with the assumption that everything has already been tried except for a massive increase in pressure. There has been no lack of imagination, despite a lack of consistency. Moreover, given the view that North Korea has repeatedly reneged on promises, no appetite exists for trying again for a small success, which, it is assumed, would later become an embarrassing failure. This reasoning reinforces the argument for caution. Yet, it is not a justification for sitting back and letting events take their course. Obama’s “strategic patience” might better be called not succumbing to impatience. This leads to increased deterrence, further reassurance of allies, and more efforts to secure the cooperation of China in fully enforcing existing sanctions and agreeing to strengthen them in response to new violations. The new diplomacy is more about working with other interested countries than actually conducting negotiations with North Korea.

Unlike the attitude of the Bush administration in the first phases of the Six-Party Talks of not holding bilateral talks with Pyongyang, the approach now seems to be to talk in various settings without relaxing preconditions for the Six-Party Talks or serious pursuit of common ground. Again rewarding bad behavior would not only undermine UN sanctions, it would be divisive toward the other countries. Track-2 talks and informal sounding out about discrete aspects of North Korea’s nuclear program may be tried, but few have any optimism about such efforts. There is no appetite to offer real rewards for weak concessions. More clarity can be provided on what is on the table for denuclearization, but that seems to be the limit of diplomacy.

The stay-the course approach to US diplomacy was buttressed by analysis showing new strains within North Korea: a failing state, fissions within the elite, growing mass awareness of South Korean prosperity, widening contradictions from partial economic reforms, and the obvious failure of the byungjin policy of both guns and butter. More pressure on Pyongyang can intensify these contradictions. After all, it makes no sense that sanctions against Iran are tougher than those against North Korea. The goal is not regime collapse, but to sharpen the choices for Kim Jong-un, making collapse of the regime the alternative to denuclearization. In either scenario, the process would be aimed at building a foundation for peaceful reunification.

The discussion centered on how to interpret China’s “new diplomacy,” and how uncertainty about it affects the diplomacy of the other two countries. If Beijing is serious about pressuring Pyongyang and even supporting reunification under the leadership of Seoul, then the diplomacy of Seoul and Washington would justifiably concentrate on working with it and showing “strategic patience” while its approach is unfolding. If, however, there is no real “new diplomacy” or if the preconditions for it are unrealizable, then diplomacy that shows Beijing the costs of its ambivalence is more advisable. The lack of transparency in Chinese policymaking reinforces doubts as do signs that polarization rather than pragmatism is the predominant outlook. If there is evidence that the public and the leadership are more frustrated with North Korea, there is contradictory evidence about geopolitical and national identity views standing in the way of a coordinated approach to stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Three arguments in favor of a shift toward “new diplomacy” in China raise doubts. First, is the argument that North Korea is more a minus than a plus for the security of China. However much that conveys the longstanding thinking in other countries, few think that is the preponderance of thinking in Beijing, where zero-sum logic is applied to struggles such as those in the East and South China seas. Second, is the claim that China’s image is hurt by the ways it condones or fails to criticize North Korean aggression, as in the Cheonan sinking, when it did not offer condolences or help in the probe. Concern about its image in South Korea and the West has not been a big factor; so few take this argument seriously. Finally, there is the view that North Korea will collapse sooner or later, and Chinese are beginning to recognize that they should reconcile themselves to this outcome. Again, the case for skepticism centers on the impression that however late North Korean leaders may be in deciding to change course, China still expects to be in a position to steer the North toward new policies and reforms that would keep the regime afloat and give China leverage.

The fact that North Korea’s economy has appeared to revive to some extent led to questions about how much help China is providing. Perhaps, many in China lack awareness of the support that continues. If there is a Chinese bottom line to keep the North afloat, is it also a foundation for allowing North Korea to be threatening? The discussion ended with uncertainty about whether there is a Chinese tipping point, and if it depends on North Korea’s behavior, e.g. another nuclear test, or on China’s relations with the United States, e.g. U.S. acceptance of “core interests.” If expectations are confirmed that North Korea cannot accept the status quo and is preparing for some provocative move, the answer should come soon whether a triangular China-South Korea-U.S. diplomatic response will prove that the new diplomacy is genuine a mutually reinforced or whether China disappoints the others and contributes to a narrower diplomacy focused principally on deterrence.

Diplomacy in Seoul rests on persistence to grasp for any opening that would allow “new diplomacy” to take hold in China. In the United States, patience is wearing thin, but there is still some testing of China’s intentions as moves toward deterrence go forward. Diplomacy is hanging by a narrow thread rather than gaining momentum. This is the grim reality discussed at the panel, even in the face of a suggestion that China may be contemplating “new diplomacy” more welcome to other