Overview of The Four Connected Powers
With Korean Reunification being more than just wishful thinking, I’m very curious to keep tabs on what other major countries think about North and South Korea becoming one. I will highlight various articles that imply how they feel regarding Korean reunification.
In the last three decades, South Korea had outstanding economic success, surging to the 12th rank of world economic strength as of 2008 with no major natural resources and with only a population of about 45 million in a small land area of 98,190 square meters, slightly larger than Indiana of the United States. This miracle transition from “hunger to affluence” could be based on the private incentive-oriented free market economic system in South Korea. This open economic system has been supplemented by the past experiences of hardships, pain, and tears that all Koreans have experienced. This growth can give other countries a potential scare in the face of an upcoming powerful nation.
The United States in general supports the reunification of North and South Korea, as long as it’s under a democratic government. One of their long-lasting fears is North Korea’s naturally high uranium deposits, which can fuel an extensive nuclear weapons program within the country.
In the end, the United States support the reunification of Korea, but only until the point where Korea is at a level where the United States are able to control them. Otherwise, the United States wouldn’t want a potential threat for competing with another superpower.
China has had old ties with North Korea ever since they came to North Korea’s aid during the Korean War. In addition, China is one of the largest economic and trade partner with South Korea, followed by the United States, and then Japan. But they would not want to see Korea reunifying, because China would prefer to keep the Korean Peninsula divided, in order to maintain using the North as a strategic buffer while keeping the South as a trade and strategic partner.
In terms of politics, China sees a unified Korea as a foundation for Japan and the United States to advance militarily to the peninsula border with China. Officially, China says that there is no reason to oppose Korean reunification, but realistically, China feels that it is easier to deal with Korea that is divided over a united Korea in all aspects of Korea-China transactions.
Both North and South Korea perceived Japan as an old evil that derived from the past colonial rule as well as a repeated denial of Japanese wrong-doings of any sort. But South Korea has steadily improved its relation to Japan by the 1960’s for the sake of improving their common interests and their economic, political, and cultural objectives. For Japan, North Korea is a nuisance that blatantly expresses its anti-Japanese sentiment that is deeply rooted in its historical relationship.
Japan has a huge stake in the form a unified Korea may take. A unified Korea’s political and economic systems, defense posture, and relations with other countries will affect Japan’s national security and the well-being of citizens. Although Japan has limited direct influence over the future of Korea, Japan has to clarify its national interests in a unified Korea and take necessary measures to help ensure that unified Korean political and economic systems maintain long-term bilateral relations with Japan. Japan may look forward to forming a multilateral security framework in Northeast Asia to provide a sufficient sense of security for the nations concerned.
The Soviet Union was interested in controlling the Korean Peninsula, even from the time of Russian czars around the 1900’s. However, South Korea is economically more important than North Korea to pragmatic Russians. Unlike China, today’s Russia no longer desires that the North Korean political system remain a socialist state. If there is political and regime change in the North, Russians are not likely to be concerned too much if floods of refugees cross the border of the peninsula. The probability of close cooperation on the contingency measures between Russia and China would most likely surpass the intensity of Russia to side with either the United States or Japan.
The most significant goal of Russia’s foreign policy in East Asia is to involve themselves in regional economic cooperation, primarily with neighbor countries, in order to have more opportunities to develop Russian Far East and East Siberia. In addition, Russia also has plans to construct a trans-continental railway that connects North and South Korea through Russia into the European Union countries. To Russia, a unified Korea is more important for its economic policies rather than its political structure.