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The East Asia summit and ASEAN: Potential and Problems

The East Asia summit and ASEAN: Potential and Problems The East Asia Summit and ASEAN: Potential and Problems For the past five decades, ASEAN has been the sole regional institution of substance in East Asia. During most of its existence, it was largely focused inward and on Southeast Asia. However, in the late 1990s that situation began to change. Asian states began to experiment with new regional mechanisms and processes, and ASEAN began to take a more expansive vision of its regional role.1 These were at times complementary processes. The creation of ASEAN Plus Three (APT) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in the 1990s were the first elements of external engagement. The organization realized that in an increasingly interconnected East Asian region, the interests of its Southeast Asian members were going to be shaped more by events occurring outside the neighbourhood, and in particular by a rising China, than they were by intramural affairs. Moreover, it was these impulses — to devise useful institutional structures for a changing region and to engage the Great Powers in ways that retained ASEAN’s self-styled “centrality” — that led to the formation of the East Asia Summit (EAS) in 2005. Although the sixteen-member grouping has considerable potential to play a http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

The East Asia summit and ASEAN: Potential and Problems


The East Asia Summit and ASEAN: Potential and Problems For the past five decades, ASEAN has been the sole regional institution of substance in East Asia. During most of its existence, it was largely focused inward and on Southeast Asia. However, in the late 1990s that situation began to change. Asian states began to experiment with new regional mechanisms and processes, and ASEAN began to take a more expansive vision of its regional role.1 These were at times complementary processes. The creation of ASEAN Plus Three (APT) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in the 1990s were the first elements of external engagement. The organization realized that in an increasingly interconnected East Asian region, the interests of its Southeast Asian members were going to be shaped more by events occurring outside the neighbourhood, and in particular by a rising China, than they were by intramural affairs. Moreover, it was these impulses — to devise useful institutional structures for a changing region and to engage the Great Powers in ways that retained ASEAN’s self-styled “centrality” — that led to the formation of the East Asia Summit (EAS) in 2005. Although the sixteen-member grouping has considerable potential to play a leading role in the region, this has not yet been realized. Part of the reason is that the regional setting is now much more fluid and contested. But it also has to do with the fundamental tensions at play when ASEAN tries to shape the agenda in a grouping where is Executive Director of La Trobe Asia and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University. Postal address: La Trobe Asia, La Trobe University, Bundoora, 3086, VIC, Australia; email: n.bisley@latrobe.edu.au. 01 Roundtable-3P.indd 265 it is outweighed by non-ASEAN members. This article explores these issues and argues that the ability of the EAS to realize the ambitions many have for it to be the...
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Publisher
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Copyright
Copyright © The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
ISSN
1793-284X
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Abstract

The East Asia Summit and ASEAN: Potential and Problems For the past five decades, ASEAN has been the sole regional institution of substance in East Asia. During most of its existence, it was largely focused inward and on Southeast Asia. However, in the late 1990s that situation began to change. Asian states began to experiment with new regional mechanisms and processes, and ASEAN began to take a more expansive vision of its regional role.1 These were at times complementary processes. The creation of ASEAN Plus Three (APT) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in the 1990s were the first elements of external engagement. The organization realized that in an increasingly interconnected East Asian region, the interests of its Southeast Asian members were going to be shaped more by events occurring outside the neighbourhood, and in particular by a rising China, than they were by intramural affairs. Moreover, it was these impulses — to devise useful institutional structures for a changing region and to engage the Great Powers in ways that retained ASEAN’s self-styled “centrality” — that led to the formation of the East Asia Summit (EAS) in 2005. Although the sixteen-member grouping has considerable potential to play a

Journal

Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic AffairsInstitute of Southeast Asian Studies

Published: Aug 23, 2017

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