To Achieve Peace in North East Asia from the view of Chinese Women

 

 

Sun Jisheng
Dean of the Department of
English and International Studies,
China Foreign Affairs University

 

To achieve peace in North East Asia is an important part of safeguarding world peace. There are several aspects we can make more effort to achieve peace in this region. In the short term, we should strength the coordination and cooperation within the framework of Six?Party Talks and solve the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsular as early as possible. During this process, some soft factors should also be considered. In the long run, we need to have a more comprehensive understanding about peace and try to promote the establishment and spread of peace culture and harmonious culture. Women can play a very important role in this regard. 

I.The Perception of Nuclear Issue of Korean Peninsular and the Improvement of Six?Party Talks
 
The solution of the nuclear issue is the crucial point for the peace of North East Asia. First, we need to consider the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsular in a more comprehensive way. When countries make big decisions, they have to consider the benefits and cost. For such a poor country as North Korea, why did it want to develop nuclear weapons? Usually there are two main purposes for a country to develop nuclear program, one is for civil purpose and the other is for nuclear weapons. For North Korea, the latter might be the real case. For the current international system, we have to admit that some small or weak states do worry about their security and survival. When they do not feel secure enough, in some extreme cases, they would endeavor to develop nuclear weapons so as to guarantee their short term security although this kind of action will threaten the long term security and peace of the world as a whole. Within the framework of the Six?party talks, North Korea has been asked to give up its nuclear weapons and in return it can get material aid from the other countries. Sanctions against North Korea would also be lifted. During the negotiations, a lot has been conducted concerning the material aid. However, is this enough to solve the problem? Even if North Korea got the aid, could this make North Korea feel very secure in the international system? The answer is very likely to be No. Although the international community has paid quite a lot of attention to the material things, we still need to think about the issue further from other perspectives.
Second, security is not only related with material things, it is also a kind of feeling which involves soft factors. How can we make such states feel safe and secure so that their desire for developing the nuclear weapons can be reduced is one point that the international community should consider. One thing is the international community or the major parties involved should construct an environment or atmosphere that makes North Korea feel safe. It involves a lot of soft factors. For instance, the language we use on North Korea. Language constructivism in international relations theories holds that language can not only present facts, but can also construct discourse, rule, norms, identity and social realities. According to speech act theory, speaking is doing and is also an action. It can strengthen a feeling, an idea, and an identity or weaken them or even make disappear. The choice of language for a country can really be a source of security and insecurity. Take the Iraq war for instance, although it was 6 years ago, we could still remember clearly how people at that time worried about the threat from Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction or nuclear weapons, which did not exist at all. We can see how strong the constructive power of language is. Then for North Korea, the language we often hear about is “regime collapse” “rogue states” “totalitarian state” “supporting terrorism”. North Korea with Iran and Iraq are together named as “Axis of Evil”. Such naming might construct very strong emotions and may make North Korea more concerned about its survival, especially after the beginning of the Iraq war. The more it is pressed, the more worried it might be.
If we recall the interaction between the US and North Korea, we can see that the relations between the two quite often is a kind of political, rhetoric and social construction, which reinforces their mutual identity. The construction makes the two feel more insecure towards each other. For instance, in 2002, when the US listed North Korea as one of the targets for its preemptive nuclear attacks, North Korea said that it would abandon the agreement with the US on freezing its nuclear program. When the US listed North Korea as one of the Axis of Evils, North Korea said there might be a comprehensive war. For the US and North Korea, the other’s threat and its own insecurity have been constructed and reinforced through this kind of discourse.
Third, we should continue to try to solve the nuclear issue within the framework of Six?Party Talks. From the view of geopolitics, the interest of the major players in this region has already got intertwined. The Six?Party Talks has provided all the parties in the region with the framework for engagement. Within this mechanism and institution, states can be put in a communication process, where they can exchange views, coordinate and learn from each other. The possibility of misunderstanding can be reduced and states are clearer about each other’s intention. With joint efforts, from the creation of this framework in August 2003, within the past several rounds of the talk, some crisis have exactly been avoided and progress has been made, although there are also some ups and downs. Six?Party talks now have run into some difficulties, especially when North Korea announced that it would never return to Six?Party Talks in April this year. At this moment some people hold that bilateral talks can be conducted to solve the problem. But so far, this issue is not only a nuclear issue or an issue between certain two countries, it has already become a regional issue influencing the security and stability of the surrounding countries and the whole region. Six?Party Talks hence is still the best mechanism to solve the problem. 
Fourth, under such situation, although with the original framework, more coordination among the key players still needs to be done. Besides, the involved parties faced with the issue should be more active rather than being passive there. Just like game playing, within one chess board, there are many ways to play the game, although the purpose is to win the game. Within the Six?Party Talks, all the players should be take more decisive and consistent actions.
 Fifth, the nuclear issue of North Korea is a case we might consider further about the future of the world concerning nuclear proliferation and non?proliferation. To stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons is what the international community has been making efforts for. Negotiation can help solve a specific issue of a certain country or in a certain period of time. However, it is not a good way to solve the proliferation completely. Today, we have the case of North Korea, and another negotiation with Iran is also coming. Who will be the next? Very reasonably, there will still more to come. In the long run, the way through major powers to negotiate with those states seeking nuclear weapons might not be the best choice for the international community. Then how to solve the problem? The way out is big powers should take real actions to realize the denuclearization of the world. They need to set an example for small countries. Hence, for the long term security and peace, we need to make more efforts to establish a world without nuclear weapons.

II. Women and Peace
 In the short term, we need to solve all the problems threatening peace at the moment. In the long run, we need to have a more comprehensive understanding about peace. After the ending of WWII for over 60 years and the end of cold war for almost 20 years, peace no longer only refers to a state without war and conflicts. It means more than that. First, peace means to establish an environment conducive to achieve long term peace, not only political, but also economic, cultural, ecological and social. In such environment, every citizen should have safe, rich and colorful life. States, social organizations and individuals can trust each other. In such environment, we can protect freedom, human rights, national dignity; we should treat others kindly and respect life.
 Peace means a special way to do things. Peace involves all the activities which can reflect people’s concern for security. Peace means to solve conflicts and disputes through dialogues and communication. Through long term dialogues, the two sides of the dialogue can influence each other and constantly adjust the way to do things, and use the new way to develop their relations with others. If we push this kind of way of doing things to other areas, then the bases of peace will be enlarged. Therefore, peace is not only the business for government; it is something that everyone can help to contribute.
Peace is for every citizen and for every woman. Women can do a lot of things to improve the conditions to realize peace. It is widely acknowledged that energy and environment are the potential factors to influence world peace. Women can do a lot of things in saving energy and protecting the environment. In China, women can play an important role in the process of building an environment friendly society. There are about 480 million rural women and 70% of family planting and breeding is conducted by women. Whether they can pay attention to energy conservation and environment protection is very important. Women also play a leading role in promoting environment friendly life style. They can educate and influence their children. Women can also play an important role in population control. Without the population control policy, China would have another 400 million people, which might not only influence the development of China, but also threaten world peace. To solve the basic food and clothing for such a large population itself is a great contribution to world peace and stability.  
 Women should play a more active role in safeguarding and maintaining world peace in the international arena. From the view of gender, women and men are different in the field of international relations and foreign policy. According to some scholars like Francis Fukuyama, relatively speaking, men are believed to be more related with war and competition and women are more related with peace and cooperation. Women support less the war and the increase of military expenses. Women often oppose to the use of force for international affairs. Although feminists criticize this kind of argument, they do advocate that women should participate more in all aspects of international relations. The tendency of men’s violence and aggression should be restricted through regulations, rules, contracts, laws, etc. In this process, more women should enter this field and participate in the international affairs equally so as to change the basic agenda of international relations. Although women can not stop all the conflicts and guarantee world peace, women can help to build and maintain world peace. 
 
III. The Promotion and Development of Peace Culture.

1. Peace culture
  
We should try to transform the culture, to educate peace and spread the idea of peace. This will cause the change of people’s ideas, which is extremely importance for peace building. The concept of peace culture originated from a “Peace Culture” education program in Peru in 1986.  Later on, this concept was accepted by UNESCO in the “Peace culture international forum” in 1994. In 1995 in the 4th World women’s conference, the delegates have suggested to push forward a world movement of promoting a peace culture. Finally, this concept was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1997. In 1999, the UN General Assembly passed the Declaration, setting the 8 principles of constructing peace culture, which gave a very comprehensive definition for peace culture. Peace culture is a synthetic concept, which not only focuses on culture but also is closely related with politics, economy, security, culture and society. It aims at building a political, economic, cultural and social environment which is conducive to building peace and eliminating conflicts. Peace, freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, unity, cooperation, nonviolence, pluralism, cultural diversity, dialogue, etc. that peace culture advocates is a challenge to unilateralism and preemptive policy and will in some sense prevent the war.

2. Harmonious Society

Chinese government has always been very supportive towards UN to build a peace culture. In recent years Chinese government has been making efforts to build a harmonious society. The core idea is cooperation, peace and harmony. It has become guidance for Chinese government to deal with domestic affairs and international affairs. Harmonious culture is a kind of peace culture. In a harmonious society, there should be the harmony between mankind, and the harmony between mankind and the society.
Following this logic, we should try to construct harmonious culture within the region. In recent years the idea of harmonious world has become a governing principle for Chinese government. If all the parties can give up the zero?sum mentality and work towards a more harmonious regional culture, there might be other choices to solve the problem. In this region, China, Japan and Korea are influenced by Confucianism and one of the core concepts of Confucianism is harmony without uniformity. With such cultural basis, there will be ways to work out a more harmonious region. We can not expect North Korea to change completely within a day, the same as the US, South Korea, Japan or China. What can be done is to engage more with North Korea and provide more chances for North Korea with economic cooperation and provide more humanitarian aid so that it can get closer to the international community. 

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