THE NATIONAL INTEREST — Did the Obama administration just signal president-elect Tsai Ing-wen to give some ground to Beijing on “the 1992 consensus” and “one China”? That may be the only plausible explanation of a curious moment that occurred during a Washington conference on Korea last week.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies convened a day-long discussion of “A New Paradigm on the Korean Peninsula,” with former Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell serving on a panel addressing “The Regional Context.”
After presentations and a series of interactions among the panelists and with the audience, Campbell seemed eager to elicit one last question. A woman obliged by asking about attitudes toward Korean unification among younger Americans and Japanese.
He responded that fifteen or twenty years ago some in both countries seemed willing to accept the continued division of the two Koreas “under some bizarre concept of strategic interest.” There is no longer such ambivalence. Now, despite some concerns about “costs and process,” both Japan and the U.S. strongly favor “the ultimate outcome of unification.” He credited the policy leadership at CSIS, as well as President Park and her staff, for fostering “the concept, notional and thematic and overriding, the idea that there is one Korea, that there is one Korea.”