Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Andrew Yeo's "Asia's Regional Architecture"

Andrew Yeo is Associate Professor of Politics at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Asia's Regional Architecture: Alliances and Institutions in the Pacific Century, and reported the following:
From page 99:
When first articulated, officials assumed that the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) would naturally evolve into the East Asia Summit. The East Asia Summit would merely adopt the APT framework and subsume all its work programs…However, different opinions existed as to how the East Asia Summit would actually be realized. Thus at the time of its emergence in the mid-2000s, the East Asia Summit became ‘neither a substitute for the APT nor a distinctly separate mechanism in its own right.’
Very few regional organizations existed in Asia during the Cold War. There was no Asian version of NATO. Nor was there any process equivalent to the European integration experience. Fast forward to today, however, and Asia’s institutional landscape looks like an alphabet soup of institutions. A few examples include the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

My book, Asia’s Regional Architecture: Alliances and Institutions in the Pacific Century, examines how a region once sparse in institutions evolved to include dozens of overlapping bilateral, trilateral, mini-lateral, and multilateral institutions in the post-Cold War period. The book pays particular attention to the juxtaposition of U.S. bilateral alliances with multilateral institutions in Asia.

Page 99 of the book brings us to the thick of Asia’s transforming regional architecture in the early 2000s. The ASEAN Plus Three (APT) emerged in response to the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998, and in reaction to the failure of the IMF (and the West), to adequately addressing the crisis. The APT’s creation helped spur a larger conversation about the development of an East Asian community. The East Asia Summit represented the institutional embodiment of this community. Or at least that was the early intent.

Unfortunately, Asian leaders themselves were conflicted in their vision for Asia’s future. Those wanting a more exclusive East Asian community (i.e. excluding Western nations such as Australia, New Zealand, or the United States) preferred the existing membership and structure of the APT. Other countries such as Japan were looking to use the East Asia Summit to develop a more inclusive understanding of East Asia which encompassed the greater Asia-Pacific region. The East Asia Summit ultimately represented the latter vision. It also signaled the contentious and somewhat haphazard process of institution-building in Asia. Rather than replace or enhance pre-existing institutions, Asian policymakers continued to layer new, mostly informal institutions on top of existing ones. Multiple iterations of this process since the end of the Cold War have resulted in today’s complex patchwork of Asian institutions.
Learn more about Asia's Regional Architecture at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue