Alex Lo
SCMP Columnist
My Take
by Alex Lo
My Take
by Alex Lo

Three united nations give peace a chance

  • Instead of breaking down seemingly irresolvable regional conflicts and problems, let’s look at current history in its totality and make uniting China, Korea and Ireland the goal of the century

One of the great political achievements of the last century was German unification.

However, the violent 20th century still leaves us with plenty of leftover conundrums that now threaten a regional conflict in Asia, a potential nuclear confrontation in the Korean peninsula and a Brexit disaster in Northern Ireland.

But, let’s dream a little and imagine how this century may achieve the greatest of peace for a unified Ireland, China and Korea – and for humanity itself.

At the moment, the United States won’t accept a unified China – “one China” be damned – any more than Beijing would countenance a united Korea.

One means losing an entire island chain of defence and creates a forward position for the Chinese to threaten US allies in the Asia-Pacific as well as its own Pacific fleet. The other would mean losing a key buffer zone and having a US ally right up to the Chinese borders.

Meanwhile, England would not give up its Protestant Loyalists and Ulster Unionists, and lose its historic status as the “United Kingdom”. That may be worse than losing the British Empire.

What rules-based international order?

But things could change. Among nation states, my security is your insecurity. That’s why they either come to blows or trade off with each other to achieve a level of mutual (in)security they can live with.

Imagine the grand bargain of the century between China and the US. Washington will withdraw its defence support for Taiwan in exchange for Beijing to give up on North Korea. Both Beijing and Washington will guarantee the wealth and security of the key members of the current Kim Jong-un regime if the North agrees to relinquish all its nuclear weapons.

Without US support, independence will no longer be an option for Taiwan. Both the island of Taiwan and the Korean peninsula will be declared nuclear-free zones.

For sure, a united China will be even more powerful, which is against current US foreign policy. But it will be countered by a unified Korea, which will become a great regional power on par with Japan. Both will remain staunch US allies while China will lose its one and only ally.

The European Union, the US and China will support Irish unification. United, the North will also get its wish of staying in the EU rather than with little England. Angry Unionists will be granted dual British and Irish citizenships.

What’s not to like?