Winter 2008/2009
Asian Affairs
Mediating regional conflict in Asia is a delicate art. It requires acute understanding of the unique mediation culture in the region. China’s largely successful mediation in the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula reveals key elements of this art and offers useful lessons. As illustrated by China’s experience, having a neutral, harmonious-oriented yet influential mediator is critical in the Asian context. Equally essential is for the mediator to: 1) abide by the principle of non-interference into other countries’ internal affairs while maintaining active intervention as dispute escalates; 2) stand ready to nudge towards action when necessary to advance peaceful negotiations; 3) establish an optimal environment to foster communication and reduce hostility between the major parties in dispute; 4) serve as an honest broker but be firm in its own position and cautiously take initiatives to guide the talks; 5) advocate a step-by-step approach to the negotiation process; and 6) aim for a give-and-take agreement as the outcome of negotiations. Asia is a conflict-prone region but traditionally Asians confuse mediation with “muddling”. As a result, more non-Asians are trying to serve as mediators for Asia. For more effective conflict resolution, it’s essential for Asians to rediscover their useful mediation skills, and for non-Asians to understand better the Asian art of mediation when they try to apply western experiences. For Academic Citation: Qian, Cheng and Xiaohui Wu. "The Art of Mediating Regional Conflict in Asia." Asian Affairs 29 (Winter 2008/2009): 82-98.
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