Reinventing Regional Order in East Asia: A Southeast Asian Perspective
Thinking ASEAN, Issue 17/November 2016
4 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2016
Date Written: November 23, 2016
In the post-Cold War era, East Asia has undergone fundamental changes. These are even more visible in the 21st century with the rise of China and the United States’ long-term plan for pivoting to the region, as well as the emergence of Asian middle powers and ASEAN’s greater role as a global actor. While Cold War-era East Asia was characterized by the lack of institution-building efforts, currently regionalism is burgeoning at both the multilateral or bilateral levels, ranging from security to economic cooperation. Despite the proliferation of regional cooperation, however, many observers still see cooperation in Asia as lacking in substance. Thus, the region is now in a critical juncture when it comes to regional architecture building. How will East Asia’s regional architecture look like in the future? Will recent developments lead to a more Asia-oriented community? How should the Asia-Pacific respond to the strategic challenges in East Asia, such as the territorial disputes in both Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia as well as historical enmity among countries in the region? This article attempts to sketch out how multilateral cooperation within East Asia remains the fundamental building block for regional architecture building. Given that ASEAN’s regional community building is ongoing and currently represents the most institutionalized multilateral cooperation in the region, this article further asserts that the centrality of ASEAN drives forward the international architecture in East Asia through insisting on a multilateral approach in the construction of a new regional order.
Keywords: ASEAN, East Asia, Regional Dynamics, Southeast Asia, Regional Integration
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