1999 Pacific Symposium

U. S. Engagement Policy in a Changing Asia:  A Time for Reassessment?

March 1 - 2, 1999

The twentieth annual National Defense University Pacific Symposium was co-sponsored by the United States Pacific Command in cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. It was held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, Hawaii, on March 1 and 2, 1999, with 230 attendees. This year’s symposium titled, "U.S. Engagement Policy in a Changing Asia: A Time for Reassessment?" analyzed the nations of Asia in light of current and projected conditions precipitated by the financial crisis, and considered the impact on future United States’ engagement policy in the region. During the course of this symposium, our objectives were:

  1. to assess the current and projected social, economic and leadership positions of selected countries from the Asia-Pacific region
  2. to review the internal situations, external perceptions and projected relationships with major powers of these countries
  3. to consider the impact of the assessment described in objectives 1 and 2 on future United States foreign and national security policy in the Asia-Pacific region and
  4. to reassess the tenets of current United States Engagement Policy.

During this symposium, based on the results of the Asian economic crisis, five panels provided current country assessments and discussed probable future direction in Japan, China, Korea, India and Southeast Asia. Each country was discussed from three different perspectives as follows: A representative from the country in question described the current and projected near-term status of the social, economic and political situation and the impact of the economic crisis on the country’s strategic objectives, posture, and external relationships. Next a speaker from a different country suggested what the future holds for the country in question. Finally, a representative from another country in the region predicted future relationships with other nations in the region from a political, military and socio-economic perspective. All speakers were requested to consider and predict if and how the United States can help. We concluded with a capstone panel that reviewed future Asia Pacific relationships from the regional perspectives of Europe, Latin America, the Asia Pacific region at large, Russia and the United States. This final panel also discussed United States Engagement Policy in the region and suggested considerations for the United States assessment of future policy.

In addition to this outstanding array of featured speakers, included were a variety of panelists representing Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, and the United States.

This symposium provided a deeper understanding of the current situation in the Asia-Pacific region resulting from the economic crisis. More importantly, it provided attendees an opportunity to discuss in depth the status, implications and potential new opportunities for the United States’ engagement policy for the upcoming century.