Asian Approaches To International Negotiations Borders And Territories

September 8-10, 1998

One of the major trends of the late 20th Century is the rise of China as a major political and economic power in East Asia. Moreover, on a wide range of issues -including global politics, inter-national trade, weapons proliferation, environmental protection, among others - China is emerging as a major global player. One consequence of China's rise as a world power is the occasional dispute or disagreement between Beijing and a foreign government regarding a particular political or economic issue. If these disputes are unresolved, or even unmitigated, they may become quite serious - as in the case of the Spratly Islands - and may lead to confrontation or conflict.

In an effort to prevent such dire outcomes, China and many other governments in the region are turning to negotiations to address and resolve their disagreements. As these cross-cultural negotiations grow with China however, a number of questions regarding Chinese negotiating styles are emerging, particularly from those countries or entities that must negotiate with China. Some of these questions can be summarized as follows: do Chinese have a particular negotiating style? What are some effective strategies that non-Chinese parties can use in their negotiations with their Chinese counterparts to arrive at a "win-win" solution for both parties? What is the range of flexibility that Chinese negotiators are able to operate within?

To address these and other questions, the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) and the Atlantic Council of the United States (ACUS) co-hosted a conference entitled "Asian Approaches to International Negotiations: Borders and Territories" from September 8-10, 1998. The conference brought together an array of participants from 15 countries, representing the diplomatic, military and academic communities. To discern common patterns in Chinese negotiating behavior, the conference focused on the issue of border disputes and territorial claims. The conference also considered how China is negotiating current and future issues, such as Taiwan's political status and the rise of transnational security threats, such as organized crime, maritime piracy and illegal migration.

Although it became clear throughout the conference that the Chinese do not follow a single formulaic approach to negotiations, certain patterns did emerge. Moreover, it also became clear that Chinese negotiating principles are probably applicable to situations other than border disputes, especially as the conference widened the scope of inquiry to include such difficult topics as Taiwan's political relationship with China and the growing specter of transnational security threats.