International politics in the East Asia region.

For me, there are several key factors which will influence the future of international politics in the East Asia region.

First there’s the growing concern about North Korea’s intentions when it comes to its nuclear development. As we’ve seen from its most recent test in January, the North Korean regime are seemingly using nuclear tests as a way of establishing itself on the international stage regardless of the consequences. The uneasy truce with South Korea, which has been in force since 1953, has mostly held despite several skirmishes over the years.

China will soon becomes the worlds’ largest economy, despite its recent economic slowdown. South Korea see China as an important trader with 25% of South Korea’s total exports heading there. With a free trade agreement in place, this will no doubt grow. China is also a key ally of North Korea with Pyongyang importing 90% of its energy needs from Beijing as well as importing large amounts of food.

Japan has started a shift away from reliance on other nations, in particular the United States, to a more self-reliant model. Tokyo is now the world’s 6th biggest spender on military against GDP. Relations between South Korea and Japan have been frosty for over a century as a result of Tokyo’s occupation that ended at WW2. China and Japan are also key economic partners with 20% of Japan’s imports and exports routed through Beijing. However, despite this, there are on-going territorial disputes with both China (Senkaku/Diaoyu islands) and South Korea (Dokdo) that have never been fully addressed.

South Korea’s biggest ally, especially when it comes to military co-operation, is the United States. However, since the end of the Cold War and with the growing trend of self-reliance in the West Pacific region, the influence of Washington in the area could well reduce over the next decade. Even current US President Barack Obama announced a strategic ‘pivot’ to Asia and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton declared this to be ‘America’s Pacific Century.’

As we can see there are several issues that still need resolving in the East Asia region, For me, the only real way to resolve the points discussed would be to re-instate the “Six-Party” talks. No attempt has been made to bring all parties (USA, China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Russia) together around the table since 2012. Perhaps with the change of US president coming in November there may be a greater emphasis on bringing everyone around the table to find a diplomatic solution that suits all countries involved for the greater good of the region?


My name is James Merriman. Despite only being 31 years old and born & bred in North Devon, I’ve travelled to 126 countries. Most of my trips have been by myself and include places such as Central America, All though the Middle East (Israel, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia for example) and all through Eastern Africa. This is my Lonely Planet profile which shows where I have visited so far: https://auth.lonelyplanet.com/profiles/mezzarino/trips. Get in touch on Twitter — @mezzarino or on my webpage.