Korea-US-China Trilateral Conference

Chey Institute for Advanced Studies launched the Korea-US-China Trilateral Conference with the belief that communication among the three countries is critical and necessary for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia. It has since established itself as a leading forum for track-two discussions on Northeast Asian political and economic affairs. The first trilateral conference mainly addressed US-China relations, North Korea's nuclear problem and other trade issues. Subsequent conferences have dealt with problems related to scientific innovation and its impact on geopolitical risks as well. The conference is co-organized by the Chey Institute, Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Peking University.

Korea at Crossroads: Geopolitical Upheaval and Scientific Innovation
Session I: Reconfiguring the Future of the US-China Relations
This session focused on the US-China relations that are impacted by technological rivalry. Participants speculated that in order to “reconfigure” US-China relations, one needed to change both supreme leaders. A participant from China argued that there is not much room for cooperation between the US and China, apart from the North Korean nuclear issue. Another Chinese participant pointed out that the official primary concern of US national security is inter-state strategic competition.

Session II: Rethinking the North Korean Quagmire
The second session looked at the North Korean nuclear issues from the perspectives of the three countries. In particular, questions including whether working-level negotiation between the US and North Korea will eventually lead to a roadmap towards North Korean denuclearization, whether a ‘small deal’ or ‘big deal’ will be reached between the two countries, and whether trilateral cooperation would be possible amidst the US-China trade war were explored.

Session III: Scientific Innovation and Its Impacts
During the last session, the impact of scientific innovation on geopolitical risks in Northeast Asia was addressed. A US participant raised a concern about “chronocentrism,” the belief that the era we are living in is an inflection point. Another participant emphasized that the key difference between the nuclear age and the current period is that now innovations are primarily software technologies, such as AI, cyber capabilities, rather than in hardware such as fighter jets. On the technological competition between the US and China, a Chinese participant pointed out that for over four decades the US and China have agreed on technological cooperation, creating mutual gain through joint projects, but following the landmark 2011 National Security Strategy Report, the trajectory of the US-China relations have taken malign turn, approaching a zero-sum game in terms of technological policy.

Dates : 2019.07.11 - 12

Venue : Conference Hall, Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies