Italy has stepped up its diplomatic presence in East Asia, an area of primary importance and one of the most dynamic and vibrant economic regions of our planet. It includes three of the 11 leading world economies: Japan, China and South Korea. In general terms, and in the European Union context, Italy has important security and strategic interests in the region and its stability, on which a number of factors are currently having a negative impacting. These include the unresolved legacy of the past (most notably China and Korea’s ill-feelings towards Japan, which has yet to be fully metabolised). The after-effects of the Cold War are still being felt with the continuing division of Korea, in spite of recent positive signals in terms of dialogue and cooperation and territorial disputes between neighbouring countries, along with the risk—now apparently nearing solution—of nuclear proliferation.
The region is struggling to develop multilateral regional architectures to keep pace with the dynamism of its economic relations, which could ensure, most notably from the security point of view, the governance of the existing flashpoints. On this issue too, however, important new developments may be in sight, in parallel with the North Korean nuclear disarmament process.
The area’s problems have important repercussions which reach well beyond regional borders. This applies, for example, to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, a primary objective to which Italy has made a significant contribution, especially during the periods of most intense regional crisis.
And it still applies to China, for which Italy fosters peaceful progress with due respect for regional equilibria and sensitivities. Italy would also like to see China take a growing interest in crisis areas, a development that would increase Peking’s role as a responsible global stakeholder; this also concerns the Taiwan Strait, where tensions have recently intensified.
Italy firmly believes in the “one China” policy and strongly urges a peaceful solution to the question by encouraging the authorities of Peking and Taipei to intensify their dialogue and exercise moderation and caution.
Italy’s strongest policy focus in this area has taken the form of boosting our presence and strengthening our political relations with the People’s Republic of China, Japan and South Korea. This has been achieved through a full schedule of visits at the highest possible levels.