Sino-US Colloquium (III): A Trialogue with Japan

Time & Location

Date: Jan 20, 2013
Time: 9:00AM - 5:00PM
Venue: Meeting Room S421, L4, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre,
  1 Expo Drive, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Language: Chinese, English and Japanese (simultaneous interpretation service provided)
Fee: Free of charge (light lunch and refreshments provided)
Admission: 200 people (By invitation only)*
  (* Members of the public are welcomed to register, and invitations will be sent if space is available and appropriate)


With the ongoing rise of Asia’s influence and status in global strategic affairs, it is undeniable that China, the United States and Japan wield the greatest power over the economy and national security in the Asia-Pacific region, if not the whole world. This is because, whether in the overall size of their economy, energy consumption, military expenditure or other key indicators, the three countries are in a global steering position. China and the United States are not only Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, they are also members of the super-exclusive global “nuclear club”. Japan and the United States have the two most technologically advanced economies in the world. Additionally, they have historically contributed the most foreign aid, and continue to maintain long-term military ties.

Looking back on the first decade of the new millennium, China's successful entry into the World Trade Organization originally fostered opportunities for trilateral cooperation.  However, interaction and relations between today’s Big Three has gradually become frostier due to constraints brought about by the internal problems arising for each of the three in recent years, such as escalations in trade deficits and maritime disputes.  On the one hand China’s economic and industrial growth continues, albeit at a slower pace.  On the other, America’s military superiority facilitates its pivot to Asia.  It stands to reason that the three nations should overcome mutual mistrust so as to construct a new order in the Asia-Pacific region characterized by stability and prosperity.  But how should they do it?  The bottom line is that such a tripartite pact would bring peace and security. Also it would set an idealistic example to the whole world!

Arguably the starting point to opening all the doors to Sino-US-Japan cooperation might be by joining hands and trying to find a common path to energy security.  China, the United States and Japan are the world’s three greatest energy consumers, and all rely heavily on oil shipped from the Middle East.  While competition for energy security has caused tensions between the three nations to escalate, they also stand to share very significant gains from the development of new energy and the technologies to exploit it.

Returning to the bigger picture, all trilateral relationships are the sum of the constituent bilateral ones (i.e. Sino-US, US-Japan, Sino-Japan).  A stable trilateral relationship can only be founded on stable and constructive bilateral relationships.  Only when people forsake the old Cold War mentality and similar authoritarian strictures, and come together under an umbrella of mutual trust and respect, can a new order of peace and harmony come into being across the Asia-Pacific Basin.

Mission and Objective

“Sino-US Colloquiums” are a series of important annual events organized by the China Energy Fund Committee to promote cooperation between the two countries.  The aim is to enable constructive exchanges between accomplished dignitaries, former senior officials, academics and top business executives by offering them a platform in the form of civil summits, which are outside state governance, so as to freely discuss, unrestrained by existing government policies, cogent topics including energy, security, technology, economics and culture, and to reach genuine mutual understanding followed by proposed solutions.

The first two rounds of the Colloquium were titled, “Sino-US Colloquium (I): Energy Cooperation – Challenges and Opportunities” and “Sino-US Colloquium (II): Trust Building”, which took place on January 13, 2012 and June 10, 2012 respectively at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.  The third round of the Colloquium will build upon these bilateral cooperatives to include Japan, an acknowledged Pacific power, to explore the opportunities and challenges of energy and regional security cooperation among the three nations.

Session Topics

Session One: Political Mutual Trust and Global Security

Sino-US-Japan cooperation is a key factor in the protection and stability of East Asia, but Sino-US relations have been strained since America’s announcement of its pivot to Asia strategy, while Sino-Japan relations have sunk to the lowest point in the past 40 years because of their dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.  Complicating matters further, the three countries underwent a switch of administration at around the same time. It all adds up to an additional cause for uncertainty in the Asia-Pacific situation.  How should China, the United States and Japan perceive China’s rise and America’s pivot to Asia?  What different policies will arise from each of the new administrations?  How could political trust be cultivated between the three nations?

Session Two: The Asia-Pacific Situation and Regional Stability

The direction of the Sino-US-Japan trilateral relationship is highly dependent on the three governments’ perspective of current international trends.  This involves their interpretation of the two other countries’ national interests, how strategic plans are understood, and even the predicted development of surrounding countries in the Asia-Pacific.  How are China, the United States and Japan dealing with, or interpreting, the situations relating to North Korea, Taiwan, the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, offshore resources, navigation safety, etc.?  In what way could the tensions that have been built up in East Asia be assuaged?  What approaches could be taken to establish stable and effective modes of cooperation to mitigate the threat of conflict?

Session Three: Conflict Resolution Through Energy Cooperation

China, the United States and Japan are three of the world’s biggest oil consumers, all being dependent to some degree on supplies from the Middle East.  Logically, the three parties have great potential for cooperation in areas of energy security.  This is the best entry point for facilitating trilateral cooperation for protecting the security of the Asia-Pacific region.  In what ways could the three most gainfully cooperate, particularly in a large number of related areas such as oil and gas drilling and development, technological advancement and transfer, oil reserves and monetary policy, pipeline development and navigation safety, nuclear safety and nuclear non-proliferation, international monitoring and exchanges of information etc.?  While taking these steps to secure future energy supply, how could the three countries also take action to mitigate problems and avoid future differences arising from zero-sum games so as to arrive at harmonious and win-win solutions?