(BGF) – On July 2, we had an international online conference to build a Framework for peace and security in the Pacific as an effort to ease tensions in the East and South China Sea. The conference was moderated by Governor Michael Dukakis, three-term Governor of Massachusetts, 1988 Democratic Presidential nominee, and Chairman of the Boston Global Forum. In addition, the event featured contributions from Michael Fuchs, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S Department of State; the Harvard university professors Ezra Vogel and Thomas Patterson; former ambassador to U.S, Shinji Yanai, from Japan; Professor Kosaku Dairokuno from Meiji University in Tokyo; Ambassador JD Bindenagel from Chicago; Bui Thi Viet Lam, Political editorial manager of VietNamNet in Vietnam ; and Professor Jonathan London fromCity University of Hongkong
Watch the full conference here:
For your convenience, the transcript is provided below.
(Photo: From left to right – Governor Michael Dukakis, Professor Ezra Vogel, Editor-in-Chief Nguyen Anh Tuan)
Governor Michael Dukakis: Hi, I’m Mike Dukakis, the former governor of Massachusetts, now a professor at Northeastern University here in Boston, and the chairman of the Boston Global Forum. Let me tell you a little bit about the forum itself.
About a year ago, thanks to the leadership of Tuan Nguyen, who was the founder of VietNamNet, and now spends a good deal of his time here in Boston we created something we call the Boston Global Forum which is an effort to tap into both intellectual horsepower of so many great minds here in Boston area and at the same time involve good people, interested people from all over the world in trying to help solve some of the pressing challenges we face internationally. And we decided we’d begin by picking a particular topic, and focus on that topic for a full year.
We began with international occupational safety and health standards after the disasters in Bangladesh, and have been deeply involved in that issue. And now we will wanna move to a very pressing and challenging issue which I am sure all of you recognized, and that is how we create a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific. I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you about what’s been going on in Asia. A conflict’s not just over islands but conflict over interests, and rivalries which in some cases go back many, many decades if not centuries.
But we think that the current situation there is simply unsatisfactory and unless we can create a Framework for Peace and Security and an International Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific. And for that matter, in other troubled regions of the world, we’re gonna continue to be plagued with these disputes, these arguments over who owns what in ways which we don’t think are contributing to world peace nor to the peaceful resolution of these issues. And so, we’re going to begin this search for a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific on Wednesday July 2nd, at 8 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, U.S. Time, and have invited a large number of people all over the world as we have in our past online forums to join us.
The only thing in the world that we don’t know, the only new thing in the world is the history we don’t know and the great leaders study history. And it is a new world; I think it may be a promising one. And my hope is that the Boston Global Forum will help involve in generating peaceful resolution to not just the immediate issue, but a process, a framework in which peace and security is guaranteed for the long run for the Pacific and several parts of the world.
Now we’re very fortunate that we had in our conferences, Michael Fuchs, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Department of the State, to join our today’s conference together with the East Asia and Pacific Bureau involve in. And also in Boston, we have not only Tuan Nguyen who devotes his time as the leadership and we’re very fortunate to have participations of great professors from the Harvard Kennedy School, Professor Thomas E. Patterson and Professor EzraVogel, someone I’ve admired for a very long time becoming part of the forum.
But I want to turn first to getting to the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Michael Fuchs. Mike, if you could just give a State Department perspective on this at this point, maybe some suggestions as to how you think of the forum may help the Pacific region?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Fuchs: Well, first, thank you Governor Dukakis and I also wanna thank the Boston Global Forum for convening this discussion. I think it’s very timely important and I’m glad that we’re able to organize such a great group of folks to discuss this very timely important subject. I think that you know I could go on for a little while and explain the USG view of our policy in the region, what we think is going on in the region right now.
(Photo: Michael Fuchs, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S Department of State)
We, as a government, have made a sort of renewed commitment to engage with the region. The US rebounds to the Asia-Pacific begun by the Obama administration which has a number of different lines of effort. I think the most fundamental point here for us is that we have renewed our focus on the region very much in part because of some of the issues that you were pointing out, Governor Dukakis, because we see so much going on in the region, economic dynamism that’s happening in the region but also some of the challenges and threats we see to peace and stability and prosperity in the region.
The key focus for US policy in the last few years and which I think we believe very strongly has the potential at least in the coming years and decades to be a key pillar of enabling the countries in the region to address the issues that you were talking about at the very beginning, whether it’s about maritime disputes, nonproliferation, or other threats to peace and stability in the region. Obviously, there are a wide variety of institutions…..thus any one of them in particular but we’ve focused really in the last few years on strengthening our engagement and strengthening these institutions themselves with all of them starting with the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and its affiliated groups, the ASEAN Regional Forums, the East Asian Summit, the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus. And we believe that these institutions while right now I think in a growth stage have a lot of attention. The foreign ministers, the leaders of all the countries in the region annually invest time and energy in engaging in these forums.
And so these are the right places I think for us to come together as a region to try to tackle the key problems. So I’d just mention two things we believe that these institutions can be helpful in addressing some of the issues that you and Governor Dukakis were putting on the table at the beginning in two different ways.
In addressing these tough challenges in the region whether again maritime disputes, nonproliferation, or anything else, we need a multilateral framework to be able to help deal with these problems. And we see investing in these regional institutions especially ASEAN and the ASEAN related institutions as important for two main reasons.
First is that they provide a natural forum for frank and open dialogue amongst all the relevant countries in the region. And again as I mentioned before, you have investments in these institutions from the highest levels of all the governments in the region, from foreign ministers to the presidents and leaders of these countries. And so for that very reason, this is a natural place, I think, for everyone in the region to come together put on the table the key issues that are at stake here and agree to come to the table with ideas and solutions and frank views on how best to address these issues. That’s the first point.
The second point is that, as we build up these institutions over the long run, they also need to be capable of taking on and implementing practical cooperation in key areas. So, once institutions identify key substantive areas and challenges for discussion, they need to also be able to come up with ideas and it’s not solutions to the problems themselves but at the very least come up with practical mechanisms for cooperation so that countries and relevant officials and individuals and agencies from government across the region can come together in a key area and find ways to practically cooperate with one another. Maritime space, again, is a prime example of this and there are a number of different things that we’re doing, there’s a number of different countries in the region to build capacity in the countries and to bring together maritime law enforcement agencies, militaries, defense establishments, civilian officials and so forth to build habits of cooperation in the maritime space to build trust and to build again this sort of dialogue amongst those officials dealing with these issues on a day-to-day basis which again I think is a necessary part of addressing these issues over the longer term. So I know that we have limited time here today so let me perhaps stop there, and turn it back to you, Governor Dukakis.
Governor Dukakis: Mike, thanks so much. As an old friend and analyst with me, whether you might have some thoughts, questions for Mike in connection with all of this because I know you’re heading to the department soon.
Prof. EzraVogel: Well, I think what you’re trying to do here is trying to get issues on the table and I thought what I might do is to lay out what I think are sort of the issues this group could work with. I think there’s so many things going on actually in between all of countries, states, and departments; there are numbers of activities, and numbers of exchanges in all kinds of areas. And I think that the broad ranges of issues that we are confronted with, I’ll put it in five different issues.
(Photo: from left to right – Professor Thomas E. Patterson, Governor Michael Dukakis, Professor Ezra Vogel)
The first is how we’re concerning now is the explosive conflicts warming up and there are a lot of people working on this. There have misunderstandings between the Chinese and the Vietnamese, and the Filipinos, and the Japanese, and the Americans, about things to do to avoid accidents and whether we can find ways to get off the tense situation we are in now since both sides hold back relations. Well that’s one range of issues.
The second thing is, since the tension is not going away, how do we deal with the practical issues that our State Department friend, Mike, was talking about. How do we deal with the issues of keeping up economic relations, how do we keep up concern with global environment issues, how do we work on health issues? There’s natural disasters but the whole range of issues of practical issues that Mike was talking about, how do we keep those going despite those things?
Number three, how do we resolve some of the big issues that have to do with the ownership? Are there some ways that we could get one side to another to the International Court of Justice or are there certain principles that we can put in motion that would at least get an agreement that we could put on the show for a long period of time to resolve those issues.
The Fourth, I think we need a vision and a new structure in Asia. The structure we had in a whole world is over and the United States is not gonna have as much strength as we had in the past around the globe. China is gonna have a bigger role and from the Chinese point of view, it’s intolerant that they have foreign planes and foreign ships come right up to their borders; it’s intolerantthat they have to put up with the Taiwan division. and we have to come up with the structure that is realistic over a five to ten year framework that is something that provides security and provide a balance between particularly assets in China and some of the other countries in the region, provide long term stability.
And the fifth, I think we have to find ways to deal with emotional issues on this side that have to do with history. The Japanese, I think, they need to do a great deal more to explain in a broad way the problems they created through their imperialism and through their World War II. Other countries have historical problems too but the Japanese particularly did a great deal to educate their public. They show a great sense of publicity of issues and problems that they’ve caused. The Chinese do a great deal so that their children understand in the Chinese people, all of contributions and dependence is made Chinese modernization in the early part of the 20th century and in the 1980s and the Koreans it’s the same way.
So those are the broad range of issues that I see that people like us from the outside would try to help and frame the issues and help mobilize opinion. And those are the range of issues that I see.
Governor Dukakis: And Mike, I’d like you to come back into this with us. Mike suggested that ASEAN was one of those institutions, which is a great forum for discussion. What do you think?
Prof. Vogel: Well, I see. I think ASEAN is a great forum special for discussion. It does have its own group. It’s not sufficiently united, and strong like Europe, we can expect for that role. But I think ASEAN has been a wonderful forum for getting the big powers to meeting, to discussion of the major issues and it’s sufficiently neutral so the Chinese don’t have to feel that the United States is behind it or that Japan is behind it. It’s sufficiently neutral although now there is a new tension between particularly the Philippines and Vietnam over the Chinese issues, but it’s still a wonderful area, locale, for having those discussions.
(Photo: from left to right: Professor Kosaku Dairokuno, Ambassador Shunji Yanai)
Governor Dukakis: Mike, can you talk to us a little bit about that? I mean, as we look ahead, is that the regional institutional organization that you can see as the place where over time we can develop this framework that we’re talking about? So where is the U.N. in all of this? And APEC, too. Where are these institutions? How do you see this playing out over the course of the next four, five, six, eight years? Mike?
Ambassador Shunji Yanai: Well good morning, my name is Yanai, the president of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. But I’m not talking in that capacity, I’m talking in my individual capacity. And it’s nice to see you, Professor Vogel. You remember me?
Prof. Vogel: Yes!
Ambassador Shunji Yanai: I was in the forum office for many years and I am former ambassador to the United States and I was very much involved in Asian affairs. Mr. Dukakis, I know your name but it’s the first time that I see you and I’m very nice to meet you. I think I was not able to follow the beginning of your talks because there was some technical problem but I think you are talking about possible institutions in Asia to build up confidence and I was very much involved in the Asian Regional Forum which is not just ASEAN, but the United States, Japan, Russia, and some other countries also members that is one institution.
And to a limited extent, I think I’ll contribute to how trust among states concern, but it has not been very successful. There are other forums such as APEC which is more limited to economic margins. but of course, economic exchanges can has confidence among states. I was also involved in trilateral Track 2 or Track 1.5 process among the United States, Japan, and Russia, and we also tried the same thing between Japan, China, and United States. I don’t know what happened to those institutions but perhaps, in addition to the big forum like ASEAN Regional Forum, perhaps trilateral forums like that; major players in the Asia-Pacific region could be useful to build up confidence in this region. So perhaps, you may have a better idea that is some comments that I wanted to make based on my own experience.
Governor Dukakis: Thank you, I think that’s Rock next to you, right?
Prof. Kosaku Dairokuno (Rock): Thank you very much, Governor Dukakis. Well, I’m pretty much agree with the former ambassador to the United States and that we are talking at the Japanese, and about trying to establish some kind of institution to get all the major players in to build the trust among China and the ASEAN countries and Japan.
Well, I’m not sure what kind of forum, what kind of fuction this type of institution will take? However, it is very clear we have to have some kind of institution to resolve the differences. Because one would think, I don’t know exactly, about why China has become very assertive in recent years. Well, I really don’t understand it, whether it’s a matter of the leadership or it’s a matter of the domestic problems. I’m not sure about that but however it is very clear that we have to have some kind of mutual trust building organization in this region. Otherwise, in a while, just the little things in a click don’t create much trigger, and it will accidentally lead to more escalation of the conflicts. I’m really worried about that, and also, maybe it is a greater idea to have many different forums of mutual trust building, maybe business people, scholars, even the students. It’s a long-run strategy; however, it is important to pursue long-run strategy as well as the short term institutional response to the problem. Thank you very much.
Ambassador Shunji Yanai: Well, if I may just add a few more words to what I said earlier. I talked about trilateral forum between Japan, United States, Soviet Union in those days, during the Cold War period and also I talked about trilateral forum between Japan, China, and United States. But I refer to Track 1.5 that means that even government officials or even military people participating in that kind of consultations in private capacity, because if you participate representing your own government, you’re bound by your government’s instructions, so to give certain flexibility to participants. It’s useful for participants to make a statement or launch ideas in private capacity, but at the same time, if the governments concerns are not involved then nobody can carry out any policy so it’s good to have both government representatives and private people and even the government representatives are allowed to make statements, make proposals as individuals. So that is what I mean by Track 1.5.
Governor Dukakis: Can I ask you both this question though. To me, the Japanese Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday. How the multilateral decision making is made? It seemed to me that the answer it suggested was more military alliances?
Ambassador Shunji Yanai: Well, I chair a panel of experts which presented report to Minister Abe and the panel started its work seven years ago, and then Mr. Abe stepped down but he came back to the administration. so he resumed this process. So I chaired the panel twice and in May we presented a second report to Prime Minister Abe, in which we proposed to change to some extent the interpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution. Because the past interpretation was too restrictive and according to which although Japan has the right of collective self-defense under international law, according to the old interpretation, the Japanese constitution behave according to Article 9 does not allow Japan exercise this right of collective self-defense, so the main idea is that we should have reliable Japan-US alliance and in order to do that, Japan has to contribute more to the strengthening of the alliance and in order to do that, the panel thinks that Japan has to revise the interpretation of Article 9 so that Japan can exercise the right of collective self-defense. For instance, under the old interpretation of Article 9, if there is any conflict or if the United States and Japan are acting together and if somebody or some country attacks, for instance, the US Navy ship, and if Japan Navy ship is nearby. If Japan is not attacked, Japan is not allowed to help the US Navy under attack. That is not really acceptable. So in order to strengthen our alliance, we propose that the exercise of collective self-defense has to be allowed under the Constitution and we think that, that can be done. So yesterday Mr. Abe administration accepted some of our ideas, not the whole thing but some of the ideas to relax the two restrictive interpretations of the Constitution. And in that Cabinet decision, it was proposed that a series of laws concerning security for the self-defense forces should be revised to strengthen the self-defense capability and also to strengthen the alliance between Japan and the United States. That is to prevent conflict, that is to enhance the tolerance to prevent disputes from deteriorating. So that is the idea.
Governor Dukakis: Mike, I’d like to add a comment on yesterday. From a personal standpoint, it couldn’t seem to me that that was contributing to this goal of creating a framework for security in the Pacific. What’s the State Department’s take on this, and where do we go from here with the kind of institution building you were talking about?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Fuchs: With respect to your question, Governor, I think that we do believe very much to your earlier question that the ASEAN centered institutions in particular when it comes to the political and security issues are the place to invest time and energy in the region when it comes to a multilateral frame if we’re dealing with these issues. I also agree that, frankly in some ways, the more the merrier when it comes to institutions, trilateral mechanisms and other forums for dealing with specific issues, I think those are all to the good.
I think that obviously our administration has made a huge investment in APEC on the economic forum. The trans-Pacific partnership itself is a negotiation that’s came out of APEC discussions and in APEC itself. There has been a number of significance, I think, advances on the environmental front and other fronts as well. But, in the political security realm, again I think, ASEAN is the top game in town when it comes to being a structured organization that has political buy-in. And again I agree with Professor Vogel that there may be imperfections with ASEAN and the ASEAN institutions, but they themselves are united, have common goals, and again, they have the political buy-in, I believe, from not just the ten countries of ASEAN but from all of the rest of the countries in the region as well, from us, Japan, China, Australia, and all the other big countries and others around the neighborhood. And so I think for that very reason, alone that again, you’ve got political buy-in, you’ve got political buy-in at the highest levels, in particular I know the East Asia summit which is relatively new forum that’s created out of ASEAN just in the last eight, nine years. But just in the last two to three years, you’ve had participation from the leader level, the United States as well, and so we think again, Governor Dukakis, you mentioned the timeline of the next four, five, six, eight years out, I would say in that time frame, but also honestly beyond that I mean, we’re talking about a long term effort here where results are sometimes slow but if we’re gonna make headway, I think, on any of these issues you’re talking about, in a structural way in a long-term and lasting way. I think what we need to do is build on these institutions and a number of these already exist from East Asia Summit to the ASEAN Regional Forum. There are other institutions again that are very new, that are being created to handle more specific issues with the same membership. There is something called the expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum which has the membership of East Asia Summit which handles specifically maritime security and cooperation related issues. Also, as I mentioned before, the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus which is defense establishments and militaries getting together to discuss things like humanitarian and disaster relief, and so from our view, yes, the answer simply is yes that these are the places where time and energy should be spent trying to create a framework to address the more complicated issues in the region. But it will take time, I think.
Governor Dukakis: Well, clearly this is one of the topics that we really oughta get into. We have others for subsequent meetings, Mike, thank you so much for being a part of this, and I hope we can keep you deeply and actively involved in this because it’s so important. Really we have somebody in Chicago who’s joined us and I’d like him to introduce himself, and then comment on what he’s heard and maybe some of the suggestions he has as we move forward now in dealing with this very important topic.
Ambassador JD Bindenagel: Thanks, Mike. I’d like to first of all introduce myself, I’m also a former ambassador, I spent most of my career in Europe and of the five issues that that Vogel has pointed out, the emotional issues are most important and reconciliation probably is the fundamental issue to address the others that come. But I’d like to take Mike’s point about what we can do in the Boston Global Forum, that is what kind of forum would make sense to bring together for a longer period of time, what Mike talks about and the government is certainly capable of working with the institutions, he’s talked about how we can build support for those institutions, for those structures over a longer period of time?
I would argue that would be probably the best thing that we could do is to convene the right people at the next level down speaking, as the ambassador from Japan noted, on a personal basis to address issues over a longer period of time. For instance, bringing in businessmen, academics, government officials to address specific issues in maritime issues or reconciliation issues or environmental issues, national co-operations so that you would have with all the partners that you would provide that is the business interests, the academic interests as well as the regional interests at the table. This is a very successful model that we used in Berlin at the Aspen Institute office in Berlin for years. We have a two-year project with fifteen people of a diverse group of people and a separate other group of people working over the years and frankly those of us who were mid-level officers at the time went on to be those people who were going to the meetings that Mike has talked about going to the meetings in the Defense Department, going to the meetings at ASEAN and the East Asian Summit. By the time we get to those positions of decision, we’d actually developed relationships between various Europeans and with the Russians as well.
So you build the issues and contribute at the same time to the people you’re working for, that is, if you choose the right people, they will advise as informally or formally what discussions are happening at the next level down. This kind of forum, I think, is something that Boston Global Forum could really contribute in this Track 2 or Track 1.5 method that has been very effective with the East-West Center in New York as well as others.
My actual most recent conflict resolution in conflict management has been dealing with the conflict reconciliation issues of World War II. I was a negotiator and ambassador for Holocaust issues and forced labor for World War II, unpaid insurance claims, and such Nazi confiscated art, as well as the negotiator for blood diamonds, for banning the use of the diamonds, and financed rebels in Africa. Those kinds of efforts really only work if you’d have the business community, the civil society, and others in that discussion, not necessarily in the negotiations that is not what governments like, but have them in the discussion. The same can be said in my most recent discussions on the Trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership and the Trans-Pacific partnership and the president of the Pan-America society here in Chicago.
Having a civil society or having an open dialogue with the people who are not in the negotiation but have concerns and interests are very important. That I think will bringing those interests around a forum as Mike had suggested, that has the participation of not the most senior but those people who have access to the senior people in their companies, in the government and in the academia that we can actually make a difference
Governor Dukakis: That’s very helpful Mr. Bindenagel, and I hope you stay with our discussions as we go forward. Now I think we have somebody from Vietnam who will also be making a contribution. Can you introduce yourself from Vietnam, and also where you are, and give us your comments and that will be helpful.
Ms. Bui Viet Lam: Hello everyone, it’s my pleasure to join with this online conference and I thought because it’s not so good to hear all of the ideas but I found that they are so interesting and one thing that I just wanna add. I think that this initiative is great idea. And we understand that now the problem is that there is a lack of mutual trust among the South China Sea claimants but we observe now I think that this initiative cannot work with, we cannot engage China in those forums. And you know that as someone mentioned there are a lot of multilateral forum initiatives such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit but the problem for China now that they let do the unilateral talking. They refuse to talk to anyone; they just use the technique of coercion against Vietnam. So I just wonder how we can engage China into that and to improve the enforcement and to enforce, to push China to follow the UNCLOS and to the international laws? And another thing we, Vietnam, care more about what role the United States can play in this issue? You know that the United States mentioned a lot about the US pivot, about the rebalanced strategy, but with this replacement now in Vietnam that we raise a lot of concerns and doubts about the feasibility and the reliability of the US pivot. If the United States just mentioned about the US pivot but no real action and you cannot do anything to stop the China’s bad behavior. That is very bad for the regional countries and you send a very negative message to the regional countries about the US rebalanced strategy so I love to hear more idea from the Mr. Governor Michael Dukakis and from Mike Fuchs about the US government and how this forum can engage more the United States government in this forum. Thank you so much
Governor Dukakis: Mike, how do we get the China more deeply involved in multilateral? They seem much to prefer this bilateral stuff, and the consensus that we’ve heard on community to resolve these problems has to be because all of these nations and leaders participate. Is there any indication that China is prepared to do that in a way that we haven’t seen up until this day?
Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Fuchs: Well, I again as I said I think that this is a long term effort and I think that the multilateral piece is an essential piece of it, but it’s not the only piece. But when it comes to the multilateral piece which I’ll stick to for the moment, there are a couple of points. First is, China is at the table right, and I think that’s one of the most important aspects to this which is that you want China along with everybody else in the region to be at the table for these discussions. The idea behind the EAS (East Asia Summit) and the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) and the rest of them is that you take the rules of the road, internationally recognized norms and laws, and you try to find ways to apply them to significant issues in the region and so I think that there are a few things when it comes to the territorial disputes as our colleague was just talking about.
There are a few different things. One is that I think that first and foremost the countries of the region and the claimants to in the South China Sea as well as all of ASEAN’s have agreed including China to negotiate a code of conduct in the South China Sea. Now, those negotiations are going very very slowly but I do think that the multilateral place again already has agreement from China, not to mention the other countries that this is the mechanism, one of the main mechanisms through which we must deal with this issue. And so I think that the multilateral forum can play a couple of different roles here. One is that I think they can provide a venue for that practical discussion that frankly needs to move a lot quicker.
The second is also is that, I think that China needs to hear from the entire region that this is an issue that everyone has a stake in. This has been the position of the United States for a long time now, that we have a national interest in how these disputes are addressed and so do the other countries in the region and they have also made very clear publicly to China and to everyone that we all have a stake in how these issues are addressed because they do get to those broader questions that we’ve been discussing of regional stability and security. And so I think that one of the main roles for the multilateral forum here with again China at the table along with everyone else is to make this point very clear. But it needs to come from everybody and so I think that that’s one of the primary roles that these institutions can play in again bringing China and again they’re at the table and helping them along with everyone understand that this is something that affects everybody in the region, and needs to be addressed. And so again, each meeting is another opportunity to have that discussion to get that point across and again to foster some of the cooperative solutions that frankly are on the table and there are ideas that are on the table for addressing the issues and again China is at those meetings so again I think that’s one of the main reasons why you need the multilateral piece to help address the broader structural issues that we’re talking about here.
Governor Dukakis: It sounds to me that oughta be one of the major issues we focus on in our conference on the 4th of August. Before we wrap up, I’d like to have Thomas Patterson summarize to some extent some questions that we’ve been getting from many folks in the affected regions and we’ve had people from the Philippines, certainly from Hong Kong, and number of other places sending in suggested questions and we have somebody now Johnathan introduce yourself and a brief comment before we go to Thomas.
Prof. John London: Yeah sorry, sorry to all of you due to the technical difficulties and I got called away for some urgent business so apologize. I actually am from Cambridge, Massachusetts and I’ve managed to find myself in this part of the world then become something of a scholar of Vietnam, so I tend to view these problems, these issues through a Vietnamese prism and I am now struggling to figure out exactly what the path might be for Vietnam. I think that Vietnam itself is really struggling with this issue for the reasons that have just been discussed and it’s nice to hear some voices of optimism or at least vision of the types of things that need to happen. But I am struck by the difficulty in finding ways, and I suppose you know all means necessary will have to be employed in order to find ways of getting real engagement and constructive engagement. So far, the level of discussion and rhetoric is downright depressing, not to mention scary and irresponsible. And I think discussions like these are absolutely vital for finding a way to advance the discussion to a more sane level because I think as we’d all agree, the way things happen going contribute to increase tensions, have fueled a regional arms race, and a great disservice to the region certainly but in respects to the broader world. And so you know, I am particularly interested in hearing views and discussing further the modalities by which we can achieve more meaningful exchanges because we understand so much of what has been said in one way, not truly a dialogue but rather a series of monologues combined with types of behaviors on the high seas that are dangerous. I just wanna share one thought with you that builds on the point of the last speaker. I recently read an interesting piece in the Jakarta Post that was talking about the space for informal diplomacy, not necessarily this sort of people’s diplomacy that people speak wistfully of, perhaps romantically of, but of meetings among the states people, among diplomats informally as a way of kick starting discussions and as a way of reducing the pressure. So in the context of difficulties, for example, in engaging with Beijing, if you had groups in the region, and perhaps other interested parties such as the United States and Australia engaging in informal dialogues, even Taiwan for that matter, it is a way, not necessarily the way of at least stirring the pot and getting some creative discussion going towards the types of imaginative solutions and possibilities that will be part of any long term solution to this. So once again, sorry for jumping in late, and thank you for allowing me to share my two cents.
Governor Dukakis: Great comment certainly beats water cannons. I want to wrap up and turn to Patterson who received a lot of suggested questions to set the stage for our conference in August. So Tom, talk to us a little bit about it, some of those questions, summarize them if you can and then I would hope that our participants and lots of other people will be thinking over the course of the next month or so as to how we structure our conference in August and how these particular questions can create a longer discussions. Tom, you’re on.
Prof. Thomas Patterson: Hello, we’ve received a lot of questions and I’d like to remind our listeners that even though we’re gonna have conference on August 4, there will be an online discussion of these issues that is implemented on the Boston Global Forum website, so please feel free to participate in that discussion because it will help the forum as will this session decide what we’re talking about on August 4th. The questions are kind of all over the place but let me introduce three of them, and I have to see if anyone wants to respond to them.
A lot of questions had to do with China’s intentions and one of the questioners noted that China’s leader had recently called for “a new architecture of Asia-Pacific security cooperation that is open, transparent and equal” and then he went on to say that “notion of foreign policy belongs to a different age and that is doomed to failure currently”. The question is “Does this statement signal the change in China’ stake?”
And then some other question that came up relating to what the US and Japan can do relative to some of the smaller Asian nations, what kind of support they can give them that wouldn’t be interpreted by China as somehow beingdone to combat China’s influence and then series of questions around what smaller countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, what role they can play, not just what role China can play in resolving the regional conflict, but what role some these smaller countries can play to resolve these conflicts?
Governor Dukakis: That sounds like a pretty good agenda. Let me bring this to a close folks. First by saying thank you all of you for joining us today, for giving us, I think what are lots of good ideas but, a general framework for what we can focus and do in August. At some point, we hope we’ll have lots of ongoing discussion online between now and then. Please send us your suggestions, your ideas. We want the August meeting to be a very good one and a constructive one.
And I must say that I’m encouraged to some extent by what I’ve heard today, but I think it’s so important to move ahead and attempt to create these institutions so that it will not end up not only in water cannon fights in the middle of the sea, but in ways that we can build confidence and as somebody pointed out, there is unnecessary to have an arms race in the Pacific. Arms cost money, precious money. These are resources that oughta be productive, a lot more constructive things than that. So I hope that part of this will help deescalate the ongoing conflict that we’re getting in sufficient reassurance in countries that they can receive and invest a lot of their resources in a more constructive way. In any event, thanks to all of you, special thanks to those who participated and contributed. And I hope we can welcome you back in a month time for what I hope is going to be a constructive online conference with lots and lots of good people and this is beginning of series of recommendations. Thanks to all of you and I look forward to meeting again in about one month time
Ambassador Shinji Yanai: Thank you very much, if I may, say just a few more words. I quite agree with your side that confidence building process takes long time. It is a long term process. at the same time I’d like to say that multilateral consultations dialogue should be built up on different layers. By that I mean that we need multilateral consultations at working level and also middle-leadership level, high level leadership, and also at the summit. So we need several layers, and of course, this kind of framework involves all the interested countries and especially China. And I very much appreciate today’s discussions like this, but it’s always difficult, a bit difficult to talk on the screen so perhaps we can’t meet very often but perhaps once in a while, once in a year, for instance. I would like to suggest that we meet physically together somewhere.
Governor Dukakis:What if we have meeting in Tokyo
Ambassador Shinji Yanai: You’d be most welcome.
Governor Dukakis: and have a hands on discussion at that time. And don’t you disagree that it’s going to take time. Remember what John Maynard Keynes said, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” And as I have now celebrated my eightieth birthday that statement is becoming more and more relevant, so I hope that we can help the process move forward with all deliberate speed because it would be good to see these issues all resolved. Thank you all very much.