A “deepening conflict between the United States and China” is the biggest threat to peace in Northeast Asia in 2022, according to a survey of 201 diplomacy and security experts in Japan, the United States, China and South Korea.
“North Korea as a nuclear power” was chosen as the second largest risk to the region in the survey conducted by Genron NPO, a Tokyo-based non-profit organization, and other groups in January and February this year.
The results were announced on February 22 at the Asia Peace Conference 2022 symposium held online by Genron NPO.
Other US-Chinese issues came on the risk list.
A “struggle for digital hegemony between the United States and China” came in third, and “securitization of economic problems and fragmented supply chains” came in sixth place.
The fourth most serious threat to peace in Northeast Asia was “the occurrence of accidents in the Taiwan Strait”, while “the potential for an emergency over Taiwan” was the eighth, the study showed.
Only among Japanese experts was “continued increase in Chinese military power” chosen as the biggest threat.
U.S. experts chose the “incidence of accidents in the Taiwan Strait” as the main risk.
China and South Korean respondents both chose “deepening conflict between the United States and China” as the No. 1 threat.
“One can not say that a crisis similar to the one happening in Ukraine will certainly not occur in Northeast Asia,” Yasushi Kudo, head of the Genron NPO, said at the February 22 conference. “An escalation of tensions between the United States and China, including the Taiwan issue, poses a risk to a wide range of areas.”
Daniel Russel, former US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, described the “security dilemma” that the United States and China are currently facing.
He said at the symposium that two states see their own actions as reactive and defensive, while the actions of the other side are considered aggressive and threatening.
“Each side responds to the other’s military behavior and military capability with alarm and believes it needs to respond with a demonstration of determination and superior strength as a deterrent,” Russel said. “This syndrome drives the bilateral relationship in a negative spiral, as each state’s actions increase the other’s anxiety.
“The actions that each side is taking to increase its own security have the effect of pushing the situation closer to a crisis.”