In 2006, the main stream of the international security environment was towards globalization and cooperation. However, the regional peace and stability were facing more crisises and challenges due to rising conflicts and disputes over issues such as offshore islands sovereignty, overlaping Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), marine resource development, and Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC). After the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) had come into force in 1994, the consciousness of sea kept elevating and therefore surfaced the long-standing disputes over martitime interests and territorial sovereignty which turned out to be the most important security issues of the region.
The purposes of this article are to find out the focuses of those issues and their strategic implications based on the historical background and facts of the “Maritime Territory” contention in Northeast Asia; to review strategic interests of each actor in the region in terms of “balance of power,” “interests,” and “security” from a Neorealist perspective; to study the “Maritime Territory” contention’s impacts on Northeast Asia security; and to predict the follow-on development and trend as well as to propose recommendations to Taiwan government as a reference for policy-making and future studies.
The strategic relations between Northest Asian countries are both “competitive” and “cooperative.” Although political and economic relations has been improved in the region since the end of the Cold War, the possibilities of conflict still exist. Without proper security mechanism, countries in the region will still be facing the existing “Security Dilemma” which creates future conflicts on “Maritime Territory” issues such as marine resource contention, EEZ definition, and offshore island sovereignty. In addition, considering the rise of China, Korea’s strategic choices, and possible “Maritime Territory” conflicts beyond 2009, the “Balance of Power” will pose a threat to the U.S.-built international relation framework in the region and therefore affect U.S. interests and strategic plan in this region.