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Working Lunch on NE Asia Security

Working Lunch on NE Asia Security

11 December 2019





The EU-Asia Centre hosted a working lunch on 11 December on NE Asia security. The lead
speaker was Duyeon Kim, head of the NE Asia programme at the Crisis Group. Other
participants came from the EU, business and diplomatic missions.

Ms Kim considered that there was no obvious path to a deal regarding the DPRK. The two
summits (Singapore and Hanoi) had raised expectations but the two sides continued to talk
past each other. Kim Jong-un seemed to put all his faith in the personal relationship with
Trump and eschew working level meetings. But the Trump administration was pursuing a
tough sanctions policy and not prepared to relax it until there was a clear DPRK commitment
to de-nuclearisation. It was clear, however, that the two sides had different views on what this

A Chinese guest noted that China’s role was often under-estimated. China was responsible
for enforcing 90% of the sanctions. A Japanese guest said that Japan still felt threatened and
was concerned at the uncertainty surrounding the aims of each side. There was also reference
made to the policies of the Moon government towards the DPRK and the US pressure on its
South Korean ally to vastly increase its payments to keep US troops there.
The trilateral relationship (China/Japan/Korea) was also discussed and there was some hope
that the upcoming summit in Chengdu would see some progress on the less controversial
agenda issues. The bilateral China-Japan ties would be boosted by President Xi’s visit to
Japan in the spring. There seemed no immediate prospect of an improvement in Korea-Japan

Participants were sceptical of the EU playing any significant role in the major security
problems of the region but it continued to offer sensible advice on CBMs and its
comprehensive approach to security was gaining some traction. It was agreed the EU should
do more to engage the DPRK rather than just criticise it.