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The Changing Face of the Russian Far East: Cooperation and Resource Competition Between Japan, Korea, and China in Northeast Asia

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When significant changes take place in one part of the world, it is to be expected that effects will be felt elsewhere. Particularly in an era of increasing globalization, as regions and countries become inextricably linked to each other, what takes place in one region will be felt in another. This is clearly the case with the Greater Middle East (GME). As this region expands in scope and composition, those areas on the borders must deal with the consequences. For example, much attention is placed on European reactions to and relations with the GME. Whether it is it terms of energy transfers, European Union programs regarding a "dialogue with Islam," or NATO's "Mediterranean Dialogue," there is a strong sense that Europeans must remain engaged with the region. However, can the same be said for states to the East particularly in the Far East? Is there a connection, and if so, how does this region relate to the GME? In short, why should someone examining the intricacies of state and societal development in the GME care about what takes place in the Russian Far East? There are several reasons that will be assessed in this article. First, the uncertainty of resource management and exploitation in the GME does mean that states in the Far East need to evaluate their own resource capabilities and needs. Developments within the GME necessitate a more thorough evaluation of what exists in the Far East for the countries in the region. Second, this sense of resource needs is in contrast to a political reality in the region: the major states have their own national security concerns located in other areas, thus creating a political and security "void." Russia, for example, gives higher priority to the West (Europe) and the South (Middle East). China remains committed to security concerns to the Southeast (Taiwan) and increasingly to the West (Central Asia and South Asia). Are the states in question devoting enough attention to the area that intersects them all? Third, if the states in the region believe that regional cooperation is important to address the first part above, the realities of the second part will most likely dampen any chance at true cooperation and regional development. How to overcome these problems and prevent the region from becoming a true "void" is the challenge of the states in the Far East today and in the future. A proper analysis of these security issues requires that one examine the perceptions held within the region, the capabilities and limitations of the respective governments, and an understanding of how these geopolitical differences have played out in the past.

Affiliations: 1: The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies


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