Northeast Asia contributes significantly to the global economic growth, but its regional stability is being threatened by North Korea’s development of ballistic long-range missiles and nuclear proliferation. (Casarini, 2017) With the increase of destabilization, the necessity for multilateral security cooperation to bring regional stability is more apparently than ever.
(Sakaki & Wacker, 2017) The multilateral security cooperation is jeopardized by the internal tensions that exist between China, Japan, and South Korea such as the territorial dispute between China and Japan in the South China Sea and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) deployment by South Korea (Kwon & Lee, 2015) Despite the heightened tensions, these nations with the largest economies have become important trade partners and are playing a huge role in bringing this regional stability. (Dent, 2017) Even though greater economic integration in Northeast Asia was achieved, the security environment in the region must be reconsidered with new strategic measures to prevent military conflict from disturbing the regional peace and economic prosperity. (Sorensen, 2013) At the same time, China’s continuing rapid economic growth and its increasing use of soft power have enabled neighboring countries to become more reliable on China. China’s continuous effort for trade liberalization in ASEAN countries and trilateral dialogue with South Korea and Japan such as signing free trade agreements have made China important.
Thus, both South Korea and Japan have become economically reliable on China. (SOURCE) China’s belief in regional stability is achieved by multilateral security cooperation through soft issues such as economic development between regional members and beyond the region to solve more sensitive issues such as historical and political security and ultimately denuclearizing North Korea. (Kwon & Lee, 2015) The aim of this research is to identify and analyze China’s efforts and contributions for economic cooperation to achieve multilateral security cooperation, evaluate its effect on Northeast Asia’s regional stability and argue whether China’s efforts have brought stability in Northeast Asia.