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This book explores the three most prominent island disputes in East Asia: the Dokdo/Takeshima, the Senkaku/Diaoyu, and the Paracel and Spratly disputes. These island disputes clearly illustrate the puzzling pattern of continuity and mutual restraint in East Asia's territorial conflicts. In dealing with sovereignty issues, East Asian countries have engaged in varied patterns of diplomatic and military behaviors. In some cases, one can find examples of the aggressive use of military force and intransigent bargaining strategies, while in others military inaction and accommodative diplomacy are equally evident. When and why do disputants pursue conflictual policies? Conversely, why do they at other times seek the containment, if not the resolution, of territorial disputes by shelving thorny sovereignty issues? This book uses a territorial bargaining game framework to analyze various stages of dispute initiation, escalation, and de-escalation in a consistent and systematic manner. It starts from an assumption that territory involves mixed motive games, which can be characterized as having elements of partnership, competition, and conflict. Consistent with conventional wisdom, this book finds that the combination of resource competition, fluid geopolitics, and unstable domestic power dynamics has regularly brought about the initiation and escalation of the three island disputes. More importantly, this book discovers that the pacific influence of economic interdependence has repeatedly prevented the sovereignty disputes from escalating into a full-scale diplomatic and/or military crisis.
Can regional mechanisms better institutionalize the increasing complexity of economic and security ties among the countries in Northeast Asia? As the international state system undergoes dramatic changes in both security and economic relations in the wake of the end of the Cold War, the Asian financial crisis, and the attack of 9/11, this question is now at the forefront of the minds of both academics and policymakers. Still, little research has been done to integrate the analysis of security and economic analysis of changes in the region within a broader context that will give us theoretically-informed policy insights. Against this backdrop, this book investigates the origins and evolution of Northeast Asia's new institutional architecture in trade, finance, and security from both a theoretical and empirical perspective.
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