Institutions of the Asia-Pacific: ASEAN, APEC and beyond (Global Institutions)

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First, it was widely recognised that the region as a whole was potentially vulnerable to externally generated systemic shocks over which East Asians had little control. The second consequence of the crisis was a widespread feeling of resentment about the highly intrusive policy interventions of the IFIs. The crisis presented the U. Thus, the most important long-term consequence of both the financial crisis and of the U.

Events to connect

Two aspects of these developments are worth highlighting. First, American foreign policy - both its promotion of trade groupings in North and South America, and its growing enthusiasm for bilateralism — have encouraged similar responses in East Asia. When combined with the failure of APEC and the WTO to promote multilateral trade agreements, the attraction of both bilateral preferential trade deals, and the development of a specifically East Asian organisation to facilitate intra-regional economic and political cooperation becomes more apparent. Japanese policy makers…became more interested in taking a leadership role to define and strengthen regional monetary cooperation in reaction to the way the United States and the IMF handled the Asian financial crisis …The idea behind these monetary initiatives is to reduce or balance Asian countries' current heavy reliance on the US dollar.

Both of these initiatives appear as a large step towards the institutionalization of Asian economic regionalization in a pure "Asian" form rather than an "Asia-Pacific" one which would include the major presence of the United States. Despite the seemingly insurmountable problems presently impeding the transformation of the CMI into something that might be regarded as an Asian monetary fund, the simple process of negotiating and concluding the bilateral swap agreements has had a major impact on the ability of countries in the region to fend off future speculative attacks by giving rise to dense networks of communication between central bankers and finance ministers in the region — networks that did not exist at the time of the Asian financial crisis.

The picture that emerges in the economic domain is, therefore, complex and evolving, but one with a clear integrative dynamic at both a political and economic level. After all, who would have imagined fifty years ago that Germany and France would become the central pillars of the European Union, or that something as unpropitious-sounding as the European Coal and Steel Community might be its springboard? Crucially, of course, the US played a decisive, geopolitically-motivated role in actively encouraging such an outcome - unlike American foreign policy in post-war Asia.

In this case, the U. No region was more affected by the Cold War than East Asia. True, Europe may have been the epicentre of the super-power stand-off for much of the Cold War period, but this did not erupt into major conflict as it did in Asia.

Mark Beeson

Like Europe, though, the super-power rivalry in East Asia created ideological divisions that effectively split the region into pro-and anti-American camps. This potential for intra-regional cleavage was reinforced by American strategic policy.

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Indeed, it is important to recognise that the U. In other words, as Michael Mastanduno points out,. Some level of tension among these states reinforces their individual need for a special relationship with the United States. Against an established backdrop of American strategic involvement in the region that is expressly designed to keep East Asia divided and its security orientation firmly oriented toward Washington, the prospects for a more exclusive, East Asian mechanism with which to manage regional security concerns might seem bleak.

And yet an examination of the historical record and the impact of the U. And yet, the conventional wisdom has it that a region that contains two great powers like China and Japan which are competing for regional leadership, which have fought a major war in living memory, and which have enduring misgivings about each other as a consequence, is hardly a recipe for regional cooperation and harmony.

ISBN 13: 9780415465045

Although ASEAN may have originally emerged as a defensive response to the actions of extra-regional powers during the Cold War, its very endurance has given political expression and an increasing sense of identity to what was hitherto a rather arbitrary geographical space.

Like APEC, it should be well placed to manage regional security issues, as it includes the key regional players involved in potential flashpoints. This prospect is not as unlikely as it once was. Despite some initial misgivings, China has been rapidly incorporated into an array of multilateral institutions at both the regional and global levels, and its political elites do, indeed, appear to be undergoing an extensive socialisation process of precisely the sort many in both Southeast Asia and the U.

The key regional obstacle to China assuming this role is Japan. On the other, the sheer magnitude of the economic links and the expanding personal interactions they necessitate between China and Japan may be compelling a rapprochement between two powers that simply cannot live without each other [55] — despite the nationalistic bluster on both sides. What is more surprising is that the U. Moreover, there is a good deal of scepticism about American policy in the region, even amongst supporters of the war on terror, as US policy appears to be equally preoccupied with countering Chinese influence in Southeast Asia — a concern that is not widely shared in the region.

The other issue that may be effectively creating a divide, or at least a growing sense of difference, between the East Asian and North America sides of the Asia-Pacific is the growing realisation that, while the hub and spokes architecture that the U. Indeed, Alagappa argues that American troop deployments across Northeast Asia may actually be making the resolution of stand-offs in North Korea, and between Taiwan and China, more difficult to resolve.

Such a possibility is still quite unimaginable for many policymakers and commentators around the region. In such circumstances the Asia-Pacific would become the emptiest of signifiers, and the US would be deprived of a potentially important institutionalised link to the countries of East Asia.

Why Asian Regionalism Matters

Confirmation that the idea of an Asia-Pacific region as either a source of identity or as the basis for regional, institutionalised cooperation may be past its use by date can be found in the rapid move toward greater regional cooperation along East Asia lines. While sceptics may be right to draw attention to the leadership problems faced by both Japan and China, the comparatively modest levels of economic integration in East Asia, and the continuing importance of the United States strategically and economically, when seen in a longer time frame it is the degree of change that has already occurred that is striking.

Given the formidable obstacles East Asian cooperation faces, the fact that any progress has been made is remarkable, noteworthy, and of potentially greatest long-term significance. Paradoxically, therefore, the legacy of the Bush administration may be that U. S foreign policy effectively undermined the multilateral, trans-national basis of American power by encouraging the creation of regionally based groupings with which to represent and protect local interests.

Significantly, some of the most important recent initiatives deliberately excluded the US as part of the emerging East Asian institutional architecture. But this does not mean that multilateralism is necessarily in overall decline. Shipped from UK. Established seller since Seller Inventory LQ Book Description Routledge , Brand new book, sourced directly from publisher. Dispatch time is working days from our warehouse. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely.

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Seller Inventory NEW Paperback or Softback. Seller Inventory BBS Never used! This item is printed on demand. Seller Inventory Mark Beeson. Publisher: Routledge , Neglect of multilateral institutions in favour of bilateral alliances is similarly perceived as exclusionary and against dominant normative understandings, especially in Southeast Asia.

Regional organizations have then made some intended and unintended contributions to regional governance.

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They have acted to some degree as forms of guidance and restraint. The regional organizations have generated outcomes related to governance that may well not have occurred in their absence. Most institutions, once created, are difficult to remove because of in-built procedures, mission statements, and time-tables. However, these regional organizations will not reach full potential in the absence of higher levels of trust among participants and some greater shift in focus from state and regime security to regional community-building.

Southeast Asia’s New Institutional Architecture for Cooperation in Trade and Finance

The organizational design of these organizations—a design that recognized and reflected these underlying conditions of distrust and preference for state autonomy—will make it difficult to move far beyond the level of the state to a focus on region. In this respect, global governance and individual state governance as opposed to regional governance are likely to remain important to the Asia-Pacific for several years to come, with regional organizations predominantly playing a useful adjunct rather than primary role.

This paper was first presented at the Shanghai Forum, Shanghai, on 29th May The author is grateful to the organizers and especially to Professor Wu Xinbo for the invitation to speak and write on this topic.

What is Asean? - CNBC Explains

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