ASIA PACIFIC SECURITY ISSUES
A. Traditional Security Threats
1. Three Major Potential Clashes
in the Region
a) The Korean Peninsula
b) China and Taiwan
c) The South China Sea
2. Internal Armed Conflicts
Growth of the Business Involvement of Asian Armed Forces and the Spread of Weapons
B. Non-traditional Security Threats
1. Economic Security
2. Environmental Security
3. Transnational Crime
C. Towards an Effective
Security Policy For Asia Pacific
D. Regional Balance of
Power and Security Mechanisms
1. Japan and China
2. The United States
3. ASEAN Regional Forum
4. Track II Mechanisms
E. Bilateral Relations and Foreign Aid
ASIA PACIFIC SECURITY ISSUES
The end of the Cold War prompted a redefinition of security. In
addition to military threats, the definition has been expanded to include threats that
transcend political borders, threats such as international crime, global climate change,
and mass involuntary migration. The concept of security now addresses also the economic,
social, and political needs of the individual.(91)
This expanded concept of security, known as "human security," recognises the
links between environmental degradation, population growth, ethnic conflicts, human rights
concerns, income disparities, gender issues and migration.
The geopolitical region referred to as "Asia Pacific"
encompasses a broad array of peoples, cultures, languages, histories, and political
issues. Interactions among regional actors are set against a backdrop of old animosities
and rivalries. Up until recently, the Asia Pacific region enjoyed greater political
stability than in any period since the end of the Second World War. Yet conflicts continue
to exist within individual states, and these have led to the concern that intrastate
security problems will worsen.
Countries in Asia, perhaps more so than others, have tended to think of
security in rather broad terms. This wider definition of security is also ideally suited
to Canadas interests and strengths in Asia, with which it does not have strong
military ties but with which it has mutual interests. Canadian foreign policy has focused
on economic issues and confidence building (i.e. building coalitions of common interests)
to arrive at peaceful resolution of disputes(92).
Further, Canadian policy has, always with key exceptions (such as the Canadian recognition
of, and trade with, China) been cognisant of American security concerns.
A.Traditional Security Threats
1. Three Major Potential
Clashes in the Region
The unfinished civil wars between North and South Korea, as well as
between mainland China and Taiwan, are legacies of the Cold War in the Asia Pacific.
"These tense areas of political conflict stand out as the greatest threats to
regional stability in East Asia for the foreseeable future."(93) Given the significance of these potential
conflicts, as well as that of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, each will be
addressed in some detail. Other conflicts in the region are identified in Appendix 3.
a) The Korean Peninsula
The situation on the Korean peninsula has been described as
"perhaps the most urgent security challenge in the world."(94) Little progress has been made in
peacebuilding since the signing of the Armistice Agreement in 1953.(95) The two sides remain technically at war,
divided by the most heavily armed border in the world. The North Korean regime, with its
starving population, remains internationally isolated. Predictions as to what will happen
on the peninsula range from the imminent collapse of the North Korean regime to a gradual
reunification based on incremental economic change.(96)
The sudden collapse of North Korea would likely result in massive
refugee flows to South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia. Threatened by the internal
instability that such large population movements would create, one or more of these
countries may reach the conclusion that it is in their national interests to send in
troops to restore order. Also, a sudden collapse might prompt members of the North Korean
regime to engage in armed conflict, if only to improve their negotiating position in later
reunification talks. This scenario has been referred to as "the suicide-threat
A more immediate concern is that South Korea will be unable to finance
the two light water reactors promised to the North as part of the Agreement to disband its
suspected nuclear weapons program. Some officials are worried that, should the South be
unable to fulfil its promise, the North will resume its nuclear program.(98) That the North may become a nuclear power
is not only a threat in and of itself, but it could prompt a nuclear arms race in the
region as countries tried to bolster their sense of security.
b) China and Taiwan
Another matter that continues to be a source of concern is the conflict
between mainland China and Taiwan. In 1996, China engaged in large-scale military
exercises in the Straits of Taiwan during Taiwans presidential elections. While the
confrontational rhetoric has since been tempered, tension between China and Taiwan
continues. Predictions as to what China will do are hard to make, since, as with the
Korean situation, the range of opinions varies widely. While some authors see the build up
of the Chinese military as a harbinger of invasion, others doubt that such a direct move
will be made and instead predict continued low-level military intimidation over a long
period of time.(99).
c) The South China Sea
A third potential source of conflict that has been drawing a
considerable amount of attention is the land claim dispute that has arisen in the South
China Sea, especially over the Spratly Islands. Six governments Brunei, Malaysia,
the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam
have all laid claim to all or some of the region. The islands in question are considered
important for strategic security reasons, commercial shipping, fish, and, potentially,
hydrocarbons. This last resource is particularly important as it is often by granting
hydrocarbon concessions in disputed zones that claimant states exercise jurisdiction.(100)
Competition to assert sovereignty has led to numerous occupations and
low-level military confrontations between the several claimants. This dispute is not
likely to be resolved soon. Despite their small size these islands are very important, not
only for the reasons already mentioned but because they lie astride the principal sea
lines of communication linking the Indian and Pacific Ocean. Should one country succeed in
gaining control of all the Spratly Islands, there would be a significant shift in the
balance of power in the region.
2.Internal Armed Conflicts
Each year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
identifies the thirty largest armed conflicts in the world. In the 1997 edition, four of
the thirty conflicts identified by SIPRI were located within the Asia Pacific region.
Specifically, large armed conflicts exist within Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines,
and Cambodia. Although these conflicts are considered to be the major ones, they,
unfortunately, do not represent all the existing armed conflicts in the area. Appendix 4
lists the internal (intrastate) conflicts in the Asia Pacific region.
"In each of these cases, we have soft states. Economic and social development
occurred at a very impressive rate in very impressive ways throughout Southeast and East
Asia. What lagged behind was the state
. The problem is one of state building."
(Mr. Martin Rudner, Professor of International Affairs, Norman Patterson School of
International Affairs, Carleton University)
The significance of internal conflicts for regional stability must be
recognised. Mr. Martin Rudner (Professor, Norman Patterson School of International
Affairs, Carleton University) told the Committee that the weak state is perhaps one of the
greatest challenges to the Asia Pacific region. While economic and social development
occurred at a very impressive rate throughout Southeast and East Asia during the age of
the "Asian Miracle," institutions, such as parliaments and legislative systems,
lagged behind in development. Mr. Rudner pointed out that the electoral processes remained
underdeveloped and political party systems, in all cases, were compromised by
patron-client relationships. Today, a minimal public infrastructure and negligible social
amenities exist in most of these countries, and the states are, for the most part, unable
to respond to the demands of their citizens. Despite this lack of institutional
development, it was possible to function during the period of economic growth; however,
when the countries in the region were hit by the economic crisis, the legitimacy of even
the states themselves came to be questioned.
The collapse of states from within is a security risk: when a state
loses its ability to govern effectively, it invites external intervention.(101) Efforts by a weak state to defend
itself, combined with efforts of the stronger state to exploit the cleavages in the
weakened state, can lead to intensified interstate strife.
The situation in Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the
world, is of particular concern and therefore warrants elaboration. Within Indonesia,
there are a number of groups fighting for autonomy: in Northern Sumatra, East Timor, Irian
Jaya, Aceh, Sulawesi, and Mandura. The economic crisis has not only exacerbated internal
tensions, but also has led to mass protests and food riots. Ms. Shannon Selin (Research
Associate, Institute of International Relations, University of British Columbia) presented
the Committee with a number of explanations as to how conflict within Indonesia could have
negative repercussions for the region. First, there is the danger that the small-localized
disturbances will grow into widespread unrest. Second, she pointed out that should a
strongly pro-Islamic government come to power in Indonesia the largest Muslim
country in the region - it could have political implications for Indonesias
neighbours as well as for access to regional waterways by Western countries. Third,
Indonesia is considered the diplomatic leader of ASEAN; the internal turmoil within
Indonesia may lead to a power vacuum in the regions only multilateral institution.
Fourth, internal instability could lead to a flood of refugees, which would strain
relations with Indonesias neighbours. The last time there was upheaval in Indonesia,
Singapore and Malaysia almost went to war with Indonesia. Fifth, if the victims in
Indonesia are mainly ethnic Chinese, China might intervene to protect them. Not only would
Chinese ships in Indonesian waters heighten tensions but also suspicions against ethnic
Chinese in other Southeast Asia countries would be heightened. Sixth, 40% of the
worlds shipping tonnage passes through Indonesian territorial waters. The straits
are critical for the passage of oil supplies to Japan and are also the route that American
warships use as the quickest between American bases in the Pacific and the Gulf.(102) These potential consequences of violence
within Indonesia not only draw attention to this country in particular but serve to
highlight the importance of interstate security in general.
of the Business Involvement of Asian Armed Forces and the Spread of Weapons
Ms. Selin drew the Committees attention to the fact that over the
last 10 to 15 years there have been significant changes in the regions military
forces. Armies have moved well beyond providing subsistence for themselves to large-scale
involvement in non-military sectors of the economy. As a consequence, local economies are
distorted because the army is receiving subsidies, tax breaks, and special legal treatment
denied to other businesses. Military involvement in the local economy also adds to
corruption and crime, and creates an "off book" source of revenue for the
military budget. Further, there has been a dramatic change in the types of technology that
are available, a fact that has an impact, not only on the way in which war can be waged
but also on how peace can be maintained.
The last decade and a half has also seen an increase in weapons
purchases by many countries of the region. Mr. David Dewitt (Director, Centre for
International and Security Studies, York University) described the Asia Pacific "as
the sink for weapons, both old and new, recycled and cutting edge" (34345:10).
According to Mr. James A. Boutilier (Special Advisor (Policy), Maritime Forces, Pacific
Headquarters, Department of National Defence) the region has also seen a growth in navies,
probably as a consequence of the large number of unresolved maritime disputes. In
addition, the traffic in arms from Cambodia via Thailand to other countries has been a
major concern for security planners in the region.(103)
Recently, the economic crisis has led to a decrease in government purchases of weapons,
which some would argue is a positive outcome as it may help foster an atmosphere of peace.
Colonel John B. Roeterink (Director, Asia-Pacific Policy, National Defence Headquarters,
Department of National Defence) told the Committee that the decrease in weapons purchases
allows Canada time to develop new policies and strategies to deal with the increased
military arsenals of many countries in the region. Others, however, argue that the
reduction in military spending in such places as South Korea sends a dangerous message of
vulnerability to hostile neighbours.(104)
B.Non-traditional Security Threats
1. Economic Security
In many ways, the recent financial turmoil in Asia has deprived the
region of the stabilizing influences it used to take for granted: strong economic growth
and rapidly rising standards of living. The crisis has illustrated clearly that a
countrys security is not determined solely by the presence or absence of traditional
external and internal threats. The food riots and looting which broke out in Indonesia
after its economy began to collapse threatened the internal stability of the country. Many
middle classes Indonesians who watched the value of their currency drop 75% within six
months abandoned their support of Mr. Suharto and pushed for a change in leadership.
The instability brought about by the economic crisis is not unique to
Indonesia. Migrant workers throughout the region have become victims of the economic
crisis. Once tolerated and even accepted illegal workers in countries such as Singapore
and Thailand were sent back to their home countries with little prospect of finding work.
The consequence has been a surge in dislocated workers throughout the region. In Malaysia,
the government took strong measures to avoid illegal immigrants landing on its shores.(105) The potential negative impact of the
mass migrations of workers, as well as residents, seeking to escape the failing economy
has been drawing considerable attention. It is important to note that the people who are
migrating or are refugees do not necessarily constitute a threat in and of themselves;
indeed, they are the victims of the immediate problem. But, obviously massive influxes of
people can have a destabilising effect on a nation and may lead to conflict.
The Asian economic crisis has also forced regional players to focus
closely on their domestic economies. Consequently, multilateral initiatives to bring about
peaceful resolutions to such conflicts as the Spratly Islands, Cambodia, and North Korea
will take a back seat.(106) Bilateral
efforts to resolve territorial and border disputes will also be put on hold while
governments concentrate on nursing their countrys economic health. Further, as has
been the case with President Kim Young Sam of South Korea, President Suharto of Indonesia,
and Prime Minister Hashimoto of Japan, the economic crisis has eroded the legitimacy of
leaders in the eyes of their people, with further domestic instability as a result.
Finally, the tolerance between ethnic and religious groups, which was
fostered during prosperous times, has been eroded by the economic crisis.(107) Increased tensions brought about by
financial strain may lead to conflicts between groups looking for an available scapegoat.
These types of small-scale disputes could have the potential to escalate into much larger
The traditional definition of security security from outside
threats does not address the very real threats produced by environmental
degradation. It is estimated that the planets human population will surpass nine
billion within the next fifty years.(108)
Consequently, the rapid environmental degradation which already is apparent may itself
create social turbulence which could undermine the political frameworks necessary to
maintain a stable, strong state. The literature on environmental security has identified
three ways in which environmental degradation can threaten state and regional security:
(a) environmental hazards can jeopardize the economic livelihood of populations; (b)
intense competition for declining or degraded resources can create conflicts within or
among states, and (c) environmental degradation may force people to migrate, thereby
creating conflict over scarce resources in the receiving areas.
Four factors contributing to environmental degradation that are of
special concern to Asia are urbanization, rising sea levels, desertification and drought,
and deforestation. Urbanization of the Asian population represents a serious some
would say the most serious threat to the environment. Effective solutions to urban
waste problems, as well as water and air quality shortcomings, need to be found. Most
notable among the Asian countries that may be affected by rising sea levels are China and
Vietnam. Both have urban concentrations on delta plains and, as a consequence, millions of
people might be displaced by a rise in sea level. More frequent and more destructive
floods and tropical storms, which cause death and displacement, are expected as the sea
Erosion and deforestation contribute to economic hardship and can bring
on insurgency and rebellion. For example, in China there is little space to increase
irrigated and arable land, water and fuel wood are extremely scarce, especially in the
countrys interior and northern regions. These dire environmental circumstances are
partially responsible for the estimated 100 million to 130 million Chinese who currently
are on the move within that country. Experts are very concerned that these environmental
scarcities may lead to serious internal conflicts as people fight for scarce resources.(109)
The fires which burned throughout Indonesia and cast a haze over the
region, are perhaps the best example of how the consequences of environmental degradation
know no borders. The environmental damage wreaked by one country affects not only its own
citizens but also the citizens of other countries. This type of large-scale damage could
easily sow the seeds of conflict.
Environmental conditions can have a negative impact on a countrys
stability and security. As environmental scarcity and disasters are predicted to become
more and more common, it is important to be aware of the potentially destabilizing
influences that environmental change can have. Therefore, the Committee recommends:
That the federal government examine the consequences of
environmental issues on security more closely.
3. Transnational Crime
Terrorism undermines human rights, economic well-being, and the rule of
law. Terrorism can act as a catalyst for internal war and possibly international conflict;
as such, terrorism is a threat to regional security. Terrorism has been growing in the
Asia Pacific region, particularly among countries of Southeast Asia such as Thailand,
Indonesia, and the Philippines.(110) Much
of this terrorist activity is related to separatist campaigns in these countries. However,
it is also linked to international terrorism by Islamic extremists. There is some concern
that extremists are gaining a foothold in the region from which to carry out terrorist
activities against the West (particularly the United States) and anti-Islamic elements in
With respect to drug trafficking, Southeast Asia continues to be a
major producer of opium, despite government efforts to eradicate illicit opium poppy
cultivation. Indeed, reports indicate that people and even governments short on hard
currency have turned to this illegal cash cow in the wake of the economic crisis.
Increasingly, other countries in the region are becoming transit points along the drug
trade route to Australia, Canada, the United States, and Europe.(111) In addition, the illicit manufacture of,
traffic in, and abuse of amphetamines in many Asian countries is a serious concern. From a
Canadian domestic perspective, Ms. Selin told the Committee that the majority of the 300
drug overdose deaths per year in British Columbia are believed to be the result of heroin
coming out of Burmas Golden Triangle.
The impact of Asia Pacific security threats such as the flow of
illegal drugs, the spread of AIDS, the influx of illegal immigrants, gangs and terrorism
on Canadian society is a serious concern of the Committee. Mr. Dewitt drew the
committees attention to on-going projects undertaken by the international security
and intelligence community to develop ways for countries to protect themselves against
these cross-border threats. He pointed out that despite the importance of such
initiatives, there is, at present, very little financial support for these projects in
Canada. Witnesses suggested that the Canadian government increase its support of working
groups on transnational crime (e.g., drugs, car smuggling, etc.) and that it consider the
recommendations made by the Immigration Legislative Review Advisory Group concerning
smuggling and illegal immigration. The Committee recognizes the growing importance of this
issue and recommends:
That the Canadian government review the resources that it allocates,
both inside Canada and internationally, to the enforcement of laws against transnational
crimes such as terrorism and drug trafficking.
Effective Security Policy For Asia Pacific
Historically, Canada has had a large non-military relationship with
Asia, exemplified by trade activity, immigration, and the missionary work undertaken in
China by Dr. Norman Bethune and others. The Asia-Pacific region is an increasingly
important one for Canada on a number of levels. On a broad level, ensuring stability and
security in the region fits within Canadas three pillars of foreign policy. The
first objective of Canadian foreign policy is the promotion of prosperity and employment.(112) The Canadian government has stated that
economic prosperity depends not only on sound domestic economic policies but also on wider
global prosperity. Thus, fostering conditions for strong economic growth in Asia (such as
stability) is consistent with Canadian policy.
The second objective is the protection of our own security, within a
stable framework. This statement reflects an understanding that Canadian security,
including economic security, is increasingly dependent on the security of other countries
and regions. A stable and secure regional environment is essential for economic growth and
development. It follows then, that ensuring the security of the Asia Pacific is an
important part of protecting Canadian security.
The third objective of Canadian foreign policy is the protection of
Canadian values and culture. These values specifically respect for democracy, the
rule of law, human rights, and the environment can only truly be attained under
conditions of peace and stability. Clearly, the security of the Asia Pacific region is
directly relevant to Canadian foreign policy. Overall, ensuring security in the Asia
Pacific is important to Canada in that it helps meet each of Canadas three foreign
The benefit of Asian regional security to Canada is not limited to
general policy. The Committee heard from a number of witnesses who presented a range of
other reasons why Asia Pacific security matters to Canada. First, trade and investment are
important to Canada. Mr. David Dewitt noted that to have an effective economic commercial
trade and financial engagement, one has to be assured of political and social stability
and interstate security. Canadas trade across the Pacific has, for much of the
1990s, become greater than that across the Atlantic. To the extent that Asia is insecure,
Canadian business in the region suffers.
Second, Ms. Shannon Selin pointed to the importance of open and safe
sea-lanes and air routes for trade. Conflict in the region could seriously disrupt
efficient trade between and within countries.
Third, there is the issue of military engagement. Despite Canadians
having played a role in the Korean and Vietnam wars and having taken part in the United
Nations peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, Canada does not have strong military ties
with Asia. Nonetheless, the fact that Canada is linked commercially, diplomatically, and
militarily with the United States will lead to strong pressure on Canada to participate
in, or to play a supportive role for any U.S.-led military action. Alternatively, conflict
in the region might lead to a UN peacekeeping mission, with Canada being asked to
contribute. Quite possibly, participation in either type of missions would have enormous
costs both in financial terms and in lives. Ms. Selin also noted that, from a financial
perspective, Canada would likely be pressured to contribute monetarily to the
reconstruction of any war-torn societies. It is hard to see how these costs would not be
far greater than those of preventative measures.
Next, there is the issue of diplomacy, in which Canada places a heavy
emphasis on multilateralism. The failure of Canadian diplomatic efforts in Asia would not
help corresponding efforts elsewhere.
Fifth, there is the concern that instability in Asia could radiate out,
creating instability in other regions in which Canada has interests. Conversely, the
promotion and establishment of Canadian global security goals such as non-proliferation of
nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in the region can have a wider impact than
simply on the region itself.
Sixth, the domestic repercussions of instability and conflict within
Asia Pacific for Canada was brought to the Committees attention. For example, the
return of Hong Kong to China still reverberates among certain communities in Canada. An
increase in drug trafficking, in the number and size of Asia gangs, and in the number of
illegal immigrants were also mentioned as consequences of instability within that region.
These phenomena are indeed a concern for Canada and in particular for British Columbia.
Finally, Ms. Selin told the Committee that even if Canada is interested
only in making money there, it has at least to show a real interest in security issues if
it wants to be taken seriously in Asia Pacific. To fully achieve the trade, investment,
and job opportunities that are available, it is critical that Canada maintain a thorough
understanding of the security issues facing the region. To do otherwise would result in
the false perception that Canada is a mere opportunist, especially if it tries to trumpet
Asia Pacific credentials on the trade front while ignoring security issues.
All the witnesses who appeared before the Committee on the regional
security issue were of the view that Canada needs to focus its Asia Pacific security
policy more sharply. Mr. Dewitt argued that as an Asia Pacific country Canada lacks a
coherent integrated policy. The witnesses also agreed that owing to its importance as a
trading partner and political power, the Northeast Asia region should be a priority for
Canadian security policy. Canada has not traditionally played a major role in this region.
The Committee, also wishing to see a more focused security policy, recommends:
That the Canadian government evaluate and assess the traditional
security threats in conjunction with non-traditional issues that the Asia Pacific region
poses and, subsequently, clearly articulate its regional security goals.
D. Regional Balance
of Power and Security Mechanisms
With the decline in US and Soviet military presence in Asia Pacific,
the importance of intra-regional balance of power has increased(113). The following section discusses the local key
players in any regional security arrangement.
1.Japan and China
Aside from the United States, Japan and China are the major powers in
Asia Pacific. Whether these two countries can coexist peacefully will affect decisively
the security of the region. Challenges to their peaceful coexistence include Japans
reluctance to apologize for its war crimes (Japans stance on World War II remains a
central source of contention in its relationship with China as well as with Korea and
other Asian countries), the Taiwan issue, and the perceptions each country has of the
Thus far, neither country has emerged as the dominant in the region.
However, its sheer size, population, economic growth, and permanent seat on the UN
Security Council afford China a considerable amount of power. Additionally, Chinas
status as a nuclear power, and its build up of military forces, along with its historical
intent and increasingly strident nationalism, has caused concern among some analysts.(114)
From Chinas perspective, the reaffirmation of the U.S.-Japan
security alliance is an ominous signal. This alliance is perceived as evidence of an U.S.
policy to contain China, and as a cover under which Japan will start to play a larger
Within Japan, there has been considerable debate as to whether Japan
should continue to rely on the United States for its security, or if it should become a
more "normal nation" with the military strength capable of defending its
national interests.(115) As is the case
with China, an intense military build-up in Japan would likely promote feelings of
insecurity in the entire region.
2.The United States
The United States is the principal country to exert power in Asia
Pacific. Its bilateral alliances and its implicit and explicit security guarantees to
countries in the region operate as a stabilising force. However, there is, first,
uncertainty as to how the U.S. would deal with a crisis, and second, a parallel concern
that the U.S. commitment to the region may be weakening. As the US military gradually
withdraws from the region there are fears as to who will move in to take up the role of
regional power. A dramatic shift in the regions balance of power could be highly
3.ASEAN Regional Forum
"Unlike Europe and the Atlantic community, AsiaPacific has
scarcely begun to organize institutions for preventing or resolving regional conflicts.(116)" Set against this backdrop, the ASEAN Regional
Forum (ARF) has emerged as a leading vehicle for Asia-Pacific wide consultation and
dialogue on security issues. This organisation represents an effort by the ASEAN countries
to develop a regional security structure to help manage conflict resolution and
competition among member states(117). It
seeks to build security in three stages: (1) confidence building (while the ARF is still
in the confidence-building stage, it is significant for a region, which lacks experience
in multilateral security efforts. The Committee believes that a continuation of Canadian
support for confidence-building initiatives in the region is warranted); (2) engagement in
preventative diplomacy; and (3) improving approaches to conflict resolution.
Despite the positive steps, there are worries that the atmosphere of
trust and co-operation between the young alliances will become strained as the economic
crisis takes its toll. Even without that crisis, some question the ability of the
countries involved to surmount the barriers created by the unresolved historical issues
and the dramatic power asymmetries between countries. These challenges cast doubt on the
prospects of creating an effective security regime. However, on a positive note, the
economic crisis may turn out to be the catalyst needed to break the thirty-one year taboo
against questioning fellow ASEAN members regarding their domestic affairs. Such a change
could provide the region with a means of forcing security issues into the open. Whether
the ARF is able to develop into an effective forum for confidence building, conflict
resolution, and dispute settlement will significantly affect the future stability of the
Asia Pacific region.
The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) needs to develop a long-term action
agenda detailing how it will deal with unconventional threats. These issues are best
addressed in a multilateral forum, as non-traditional security threats may have a better
chance of being successfully worked out there. Success in dealing with these types of
issues would lend credibility to the organisation, an important accomplishment, given that
it is the only regional multilateral security forum. It was suggested that Canada initiate
discussions within the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) issues such as drugs and arms smuggling.
In so doing, a procedural agreement on how member states will deal with drug smuggling
could be developed.
4.Track II Mechanisms
Track II mechanisms bring academics and other interested parties
together in a non-official, non-governmental capacity to discuss relevant issues. These
meetings help generate new ideas and approaches to security concerns, as well as building
confidence and creating new relationships, understandings, and commitments. One such
organization is CSCAP (the Committee on Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific) which
regional players in Asia Pacific have come to recognise as the primary Track 2 vehicle. It
is therefore in Canadas best interest to ensure that it remains an active
participant in this organization.(118)
Another such entity is CANCAPS (Canadian Consortium on Asia Pacific Security), which is
specifically designed to feed into discussions about Canadian policy and Asia Pacific
security. However, the Committee was told that the Canadian government sometimes seemed
barely aware of Track II efforts and that these initiatives do not factor into official
policy. This is considered a loss of a valuable opportunity and resource. Witnesses
suggested it would be helpful if the Canadian government made greater use of Track II
Mechanisms and if it continued to fund them. Representatives of the Canadian embassies
abroad could attend these meetings, or briefings could be given to officials of the
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
E.Bilateral Relations and Foreign
The Committee recognizes that the multilateral process is important to
Canada, not only because it breeds a habit of dialogue and a sense of commitment among the
players, but because it is a means for Canada, as a middle power, to gain some leverage.
Consequently, the Committee considers it important to maintain multilateral efforts.
However, the economic crisis is expected to cause countries to focus inwards as they try
to address domestic economic priorities. This, compounded with the sense of threat many of
these countries feel vis-à-vis their neighbours, means that bilateralism will remain the
principal vehicle for establishing and strengthening relations in Asia Pacific. The
Committee believes that Canada should concentrate on building and strengthening bilateral
relations in Asia Pacific.
Mr. Boutilier pointed out that in many parts of Asia, military forces
figure prominently. Visits between high-level military officials can have enormous
diplomatic value. For example, the regular five-year program of Canadian naval deployments
to Asia has helped to establish a consistent Canadian presence in Asia. This program
should be preserved.
Mr. Rudner made strong arguments as to the serious consequences of the
weakness of "the state" in the Asia Pacific region.(119) The weak state is a security threat in
that governments are incapable of dealing effectively with strong domestic turbulence, as
the present economic crisis and consequent instability have illustrated. Mr. Rudner has
suggested that, while worthy in their own right, existing capacity building projects tend
to be small and linked to a narrower set of objectives (e.g., administration of justice).
As a result these projects do not address the overall challenge of "the weak
state." Moreover, the shift to the private sector and non-governmental organization
(NGO)/community development (on the part not only of Canadian, but also of World Bank and
other leading donors priorities) has resulted in a near-abandonment of public sector
institutions, in terms of development.
The Committee is of the view that foreign aid can be instrumental in
improving bilateral relations, stabilizing security threats and strengthening the weak
state. While a detailed examination of Canadas foreign assistance programs and
policies as they affect Asia-Pacific is beyond the scope of this report, it would be
useful if such a review were conducted by the federal government. The Committee therefore
That the Government of Canada undertake a thorough assessment of its
foreign aid programs and policies in the Asia Pacific region.