Regional parliamentarians discuss threats posed by China, North Korea

Taipei, March 4 (CNA) Visiting parliamentarians from Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, along with local lawmakers, on Sunday called for greater cooperation among like-minded allies to maintain regional peace and stability in the face of threats from China and North Korea.

Enhancing cooperation among the Unites States, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines, especially in the area of information sharing, to counter the influence of China is critical to the surveillance of China’s actions in the region, said Keisuke Suzuki, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives, at a regional forum in Taipei.

Suzuki, a fourth-term lawmaker and member of the Liberal Democratic Party, said he considers Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) intent to invade Taiwan as “real threat.”

China is a dictatorship where Xi’s legitimacy is contingent on whether he can create welfare and economic benefits for the people and deliver the “China dream,” Suzuki said on the second day of the East Asia Peace Forum, which was initiated by former Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮).

Suzuki said that China, however, faces some real problems linked to its rapidly aging population, its failure to upgrade its economic structure to a modern innovative system, and its sagging domestic market.

Xi, therefore, has launched the “One Belt One Road” project with the aim of opening up emerging markets for China’s mid-range products and he has become more hawkish about making China a dominant regional power that can outflank the U.S. in a bid to ensure his legitimacy in China, Suzuki said.

Shared bicycles are parked near a propaganda billboard showing Chinese President Xi Jinping along a street in Beijing, Friday, March 2, 2018. The annual meetings of China’s top legislative bodies are set to begin on Saturday, during which the two-term limit on China’s presidency is expected to be removed. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

That is why the U.S., Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines need to cooperate more closely, particularly in the area of information sharing, Suzuki said.

Also speaking at the forum, Taiwan Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party said Taiwan remains committed to peace and stability in the region under the existing order maintained by the U.S. and its allied system over the past six decades.

In line with Xi’s dream to make China a hegemonic power in the region, China has been incrementally threatening the existing order, using not only its growing military strength but also economic means, Lo said.

“A strong but smart China is a really threat to the region,” Lo said. “China has used its huge market to impose restraint on other countries’ policy towards China. Even worse, some countries have imposed restraints on themselves.”

In the face of the China threat, like-minded countries should institutionalize and regularize dialogue to coordinate the efforts and strategies in response to the changing dynamics in the region, he said.

Lee Ju-young, a lawmaker of South Korea’s Saenuri Party who was minister of Oceans and Fisheries in 2014, said that the nuclear threat posed by North Korea eclipses other security issues in the region and is the precondition to solving all relevant issues.

The first priority of East Asian countries should be “sharing our awareness of the North nuclear threat,” Lee said, urging the parliamentarians at the forum to pool their intellectual resources to make North Korea give up its nuclear weapons.

Lee also called for careful discussion among allies over redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, which were deployed in the South Korea territory in late 1950s and withdrawn in the early1990s, to help cope with North Korea’s nuclear blackmail tactics.

“Some may worry about nuclear liberation across East Asia, but I am certain that the redeployment will serve as a powerful means of pressure, along with the current economic financial and diplomatic sanctions, and effectively drive the North to abandon nuclear weapons,” he said.

In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers his New Year’s speech at an undisclosed place in North Korea Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. Kim said Monday the United States should be aware that his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: “KCNA” which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Rose Marie Arenas, chair of the Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Diplomacy of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, called for the inclusion of Taiwan in regional dialogue.

Taiwan is not a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, nor is it a dialogue partner of the East Asia Summit, she said.

“Without Taiwan, any regional forum will be inadequate because Taiwan is one of the most important economies of the Asia Pacific region.”

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)