After welcoming remarks and a brief historical background on the origins of Think Tank 2022, Dr. Yun Young-Ho, Director General, UPF, reviewed the current situation of the world, citing the War in Ukraine and how the rise of China is leading to imbalance in the global political situation and an increase in the potential for conflict. The Korean Peninsula is a focal point of this imbalance as North Korea is receiving pressure from both Russia and China. It sits at a crossroads of the world’s major powers. Under the current circumstances, the peaceful reunification of Korea seems unlikely. However, this reunification is an important step towards resolving the fight for hegemony between China and the US. This is not just a politico-economic dispute but a fight between Communism and Democracy.
Next, H.E. Albin Kurti, Prime Minister of Kosovo, gave his welcoming remarks after arriving just two hours earlier from a conference in Brussels. He spoke about the two trends that are sweeping through the world today: Freedom, Peace and Democracy on one hand and Invasion, War and Autocracy on the other. These trends are presenting themselves all over the world. The unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is having a huge impact on the Pacific Region, one of the fastest-growing areas of the world. This is evidenced in the growing dangers of North Korea’s missile launches and the aggressive stance that China is taking towards Taiwan. Kosovo admires the achievements of Japan, Taiwan, Korea and other countries in this area.
He concluded with these words: “People everywhere are good and peace-loving. Free people do not start wars.”
Dr. Michael Pillsbury, senior fellow for China Strategy at the Hudson Institute, a conservative American think tank based in Washington, D.C., gave the Keynote Address.
Dr. Pillsbury began by explaining that China experts are all fighting amongst themselves and have made many mistakes in understanding China. He went on to review the Kissinger Consensus that has allowed the US and other countries to establish relationships with China by not talking about Taiwan. However, the Chinese have always believed that Taiwan is a part of China.
The US made an agreement that this issue should never be discussed by government officials. The Chinese, though, believe that it is part of China and feel that all overtures are part of a plot by the West to subvert their ownership. The Chinese care a lot about what other people think of them. Americans do not care so much.
What does Korea have to do with Taiwan which is far away? In 1950, the US had decided to abandon Taiwan and support China, but with the North Korean attack on the South, that changed. If China were to attack Taiwan now, it might also prompt North Korea to attack the South and then we would have two wars to deal with.
Dr. Pillsbury explained through the analysis of Chinese proverbs that the Chinese have a very different strategy compared to the West: “The intention here is to generate a kind of paralysis or complacency so that people look at China as a mystical, Confucian country without ambition. But this is only on the outside. All Chinese dynasties were created by force, by murder and deception.”
The book “Hundred Year Marathon” became a bestseller, but many China experts disagree with it. The world is doing a good job publicizing the bad things of China, but we need to have a plan of action: one paragraph for the problem and another for the solution. We are left today with the importance of “getting China right.” How did they grow their economy at 10% per year? They decided to turn their state-run companies into public companies. Now they have a majority of companies in the Fortune 500. They have stolen technology and subsidized these companies with trillions of dollars. Many China experts oppose these conclusions, but the important thing is not to just point out the problems, we need to have a solution.
The Keynote Address was followed by two commentaries:
First, Kim Geun Sik, Chair of the Unification Committee of the People Power Party, spoke from his personal experience about the changing relationship with China, saying: “I used to get calls from the Chinese embassy but now I get calls from the Japanese Embassy. In the past we had the Six-Party Talks and we were making some progress in relationships. There was a phase where we had separated the economy and security concerns. We are in a new Cold War era and we need to reset all the diplomatic and security issues. We need a new paradigm. We need to create a strong alliance with Japan and the US. Only the collapse of the North Korean regime can bring about a solution. After the Second World War, Syngman Rhee knew that this conflict would come and made a great decision to choose the path of democracy. We need a strong alliance with the US and Japan to stand up against China’s hegemony and let them know that they have to follow these international agreements. With this situation of the new Cold War, we need to preserve the values of democracy and human rights, and implement solutions that can bring cooperation and peace.”
Next, the Hon. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (2018-2021), USA, spoke of the need to think through how to create a “peace that God would approve of,” as Mother Moon has set forth in her objectives for this conference. “In the Trump Administration we had to rethink our relationship with China. I am glad to see President Yoon’s bold leadership in visiting the United States and the upcoming meeting with Japan. We need to recognize the reality of the problems of the world. It is this kind of leadership from people like Pres. Yoon and Mother Moon that will deliver the kind of peace that we all want.”
Mr. Pompeo spoke about how the three Summits held with Chairman Kim Jong Un were an attempt to recognize the reality that North Korea is a totalitarian regime, atheistic in nature and presents an enormous threat to world peace alongside the Chinese Communist Party. It is built on atheism, but this regime cannot continue to be built on this falsehood. One day this will end and the peninsula will be unified based on the terms that people in this conference prescribe. This is not about a conflict between the US and China; it is about choosing property rights, decency and human rights.
He boldly proclaimed: “We need to recognize that Taiwan is a separate country and that it is China that is delusional when they declare that it is not a separate country. We do not have a ‘new’ cold war. This war is 40 years old. If we are to have a chance to create peace, we need to live in a world that is factual. Whatever faith you follow, we need to follow the truth. When we turn away from truth and refuse to acknowledge these things, then we create conflict and war and prevent peace from breaking out. I love the Chinese people; I want good things for them. It is not about them but about a regime that is heartless and indecent and wants to create a world model that will lead to poverty and war. The people in this room can continue to provide peace and hope in a prayerful nation.”
Part II Panel Discussion
After a short break with some entertainment, the program resumed with a Panel Discussion that was moderated by Dr. Moon Byeong Cheol, Senior Fellow of Think Tank 2022.
The panel began with some comments from H.E. Dr. Thomas Yayi Boni, President of Benin (2006 to 2016), who talked about his tour of Asia when he was President and his visit to Japan and South and North Korea. At that time, he called on Kim Jong Un to make peace with the neighbor to the south as a necessary precursor to any partnership between their two countries. Saying there is a time bomb here in the Asia-Pacific area and we need to have a solution to this, Dr. Boni called on the participants of the conference to create an action plan, a global Peace Plan.
Next, Hon. Newt Gingrich, Speaker, House of Representatives (1995-1999), USA, brought a message of hope and optimism, stating that each of us believes we live in a beautiful land. Living our own lives in freedom in a beautiful land is preferable to living in a dictatorship. In the absence of war, the prosperity of South Korea is going to move further and further from the poverty of North Korea. Eventually the North Korean people will realize that they are being cheated. This would mean the end of the dictatorship. However, if Kim Jong Un tries to preempt this by starting a war, then his dictatorship will also be ended. Xi Jinping in China has a similar problem in that every nation around them does not want to be dominated by them.
He concluded his remarks by saying: “I come here as an optimist who believes that freedom, the belief in God and the extraordinary inventiveness of a free people are simply going to drown the dictatorships and this moment of darkness will be followed by a sunrise of freedom.”
Mr. Thomas McDevitt, Chairman, The Washington Times, directed a question to Dr. Kim of the Unification Committee, to better understand their strategy for engagement with North Korea. Dr. Kim urged everyone to move beyond Cold War–era thinking, saying that we are in a new era and we need to have a healthy dialogue on how to solve these issues. We need to recognize the reality and explore solutions to the current situation.
For the European perspective, Hon. Dr. Werner Fasslabend, Minister of Defense (1990-2000), Austria, spoke from the perspective of a landlocked country in Europe: The only country backing North Korea is China. For Taiwan, 2022 and 2023 have been extremely decisive. The visit of the Czech delegation and then Nancy Pelosi has led to an escalation of war games by China and the US, leading to scenarios of what would happen if China should try to invade Taiwan. Also, in the South China Sea they are increasing their surveying and expansion.
What can be done to restore stability? China can influence North Korea and is probably the only country that has a real basis to do so. We need to teach China that it is not acceptable for them to reunify with Taiwan by force.
There is already a decision of the UN court that China cannot claim the South China Sea; it is not acceptable. We have to stand up and declare this clearly and openly in order to maintain peace and global exchange.
Dr. Chheng Kimlong, Executive Vice President, Asian Vision Institute, Cambodia, stated, “We come with the hope of creating a more prosperous world, by the people and for the people. What is next for us to be able to accomplish this? Under the network of the Think Tank 2022 and UPF, I suggest that we should establish a Peace Library to research Peace scientifically and create peace policy. Next month we will launch our Mekong Peace Boat for young people in South East Asia to build leadership and an ecosystem of peace throughout the world.”
Dr. Pillsbury replied that it is important for Peace Studies to look at how wars start. Very few countries intentionally start wars, especially ones that they think they will lose.
Mr. McDevitt posed a question to the panel, asking, “What is the potential and purpose of the newly created board of elders?”
Dr. Pillsbury responded that the board of elders has an important role to play in backchannel negotiation to help avoid misunderstandings. It has to be the elders who are not directly aligned with either side of a conflict, who come from the outside and are not in the meeting, who can come up with fresh ideas that may lead to a treaty or peace negotiation that may save millions of lives.
Hon. Lee Jong Moon asked Dr. Pillsbury what advice he would give to Korea in the current environment.
Dr. Pillsbury responded by saying that one important factor is the fear that Chairman Kim has, that someone is going to kill him. A leader who is afraid of being killed every day behaves in a certain way. He seeks reassurance but can’t get it. We need to think about what we can do to reassure him.
In the case of China, Xi Jinping has decided that the US is also trying to bring down China the way that it did the Soviet Union, and is afraid of what happened there. He needs to understand that America is not trying to bring down the Communist Party and we are not trying to bring down Xi Jinping. Perhaps the council of elders can help to persuade him.