Paul Yeung / Reuters The painting "19 December, 1984" by Chinese artist Ma Baozhong, June 26, 2007.

Stability in Asia

East Asia was a stable region in 1984, marked by general progress toward the goals laid down by the various national leaderships. In Japan, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone’s election to a second two-year term signified continuity in foreign policy and particularly in the partnership between Washington and Tokyo. Not only is the close security relationship with the United States being maintained; Japan also began significant movement toward a modest but increasing political role in global affairs.

In China, the year saw a further blossoming of major economic reform. The opening to the West identified with the durable Deng Xiaoping and his protégés was strengthened. The Sino-British agreement on the future of Hong Kong (signed December 19, 1984) added to the area’s stability by reconciling, in a manner apparently acceptable to most of Hong Kong’s residents, two imperatives: China’s insistence on unquestioned sovereignty after 1997, and safeguards for the territory’s present capitalist economy and social structure with their untrammeled links with the outside world.

Even on the Korean peninsula, where the bellicosity and unpredictability of President Kim Il Sung’s North Korea poses a perennial threat to South Korea, and hence to the geostrategic frontier between the communist sphere and the Western alliance, 1984 brought signs of another gingerly rapprochement. There were even tenuous indications that North Korea might be considering a Chinese-type economic opening to the West.

In the South Pacific and Southeast Asia the scene was more troubling for American policy. President Ferdinand Marcos has been unable to lift the Philippines out of political turmoil; communist guerrillas gained ground in the provinces while the national armed forces showed signs of deteriorating discipline. The economy continued its downward spiral. The Philippines confronts American policymakers with uncomfortable choices.

The conflict continued in Kampuchea, threatening at the turn of 1985 to spill over into neighboring Thailand. And a new problem emerged for American policy in Southeast Asia. The July 1984 election in New Zealand brought back to power the Labour Party under a

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