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About this book

This book examines the distinctive evolution of the political and economic relationships of East Asia. It does this by placing East Asian development in the unique historical circumstances that have underpinned its rise to power over the last few decades. This detailed analysis provides the basis for an assessment of a unified East Asian region.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Conceptualizing East Asia: From the Local to the Global

Abstract
Identifying ‘East Asia’ is more difficult than it might seem at first glance. One of the problems inherent in describing any region is deciding where to draw the boundaries: who’s in and who’s out? Which countries can be considered ‘authentic’, unambiguous members of a region, and which should be excluded? On what basis should inclusion or exclusion occur? Are there differences in the way political and economic regionalism occur? Even more problematically, is it possible that regionally based ‘security communities’ might even overturn some of the most widely held expectations about regional security and the possibilities for co-operation rather than conflict in East Asia as a consequence? This chapter begins the process of answering these questions by providing some conceptual tools for thinking about regions. It also suggests why it makes sense to consider East Asia as potentially constituting a region in the same way we think of Western Europe or Latin America.
Mark Beeson

Chapter 2. Northeast Asia and the Weight of History

Abstract
All states and societies are products of their particular historical circumstances. Even where countries or regions have been profoundly influenced by external forces, such forces are mediated by local institutions, actors and contingent factors that give a distinctive character to seemingly ubiquitous influences. The impact of contingent factors can be seen in the different responses to the impact of European imperialism in Latin America and East Asia, for example. Equally important and revealing, such forces can be seen in the very different impacts that apparently similar influences had on countries within various regions. Japan and China not only responded very differently to the challenge of European economic and political expansion, but their subsequent historical development has been distinctive as a consequence. If we want to understand the contemporary economic, political and strategic positions of the various countries of East Asia, and why there are important differences between both the developmental experiences of individual countries, as well as between Northeast and Southeast Asia, then we need to place recent developments in their historical context.
Mark Beeson

Chapter 3. Southeast Asia’s Dependent Development

Abstract
As we saw in Chapter 1, considering ‘Southeast Asia’ as a distinct region is a relatively recent development (Emmerson 1984). The fact that it was an external power — the British — that began this practice is emblematic of a wider set of relationships, and the way in which Southeast Asia has been drawn into contemporary international political and economic structures. The manner of this integration will be taken up below and in other chapters, but it is noteworthy that Southeast Asia as a whole has never really shaken off this somewhat dependent, even subordinate position. While there is currently a good deal of excitement about the possibility of Indonesia becoming the next ‘BRIC’ (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economy, if it manages to do so, it will be the exception that proves the rule: hitherto, Indonesia and Southeast Asia more generally have had little influence and standing in the world’s most important forums. Even acting collectively, the influence of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been relatively modest and might actually be undermined by the prominence of Indonesia and the possible unravelling of Southeast Asian solidarity (Ruland 2009).
Mark Beeson

Chapter 4. The Evolving Security Agenda

Abstract
There are a number of ways of thinking about ‘security’. Traditionally this has tended to mean focusing of the capacity for, and responses to, collectively organized violence — usually at the hands of the state. Much of the literature dealing with security still tends to have a state-centric focus. While this is an entirely understandable and justified approach, given the state’s historical importance as a source of, or a defender against, violence and conflict, it is not the only security concern facing states these days. On the contrary, and despite the preoccupation with state security in much of East Asia, there are new security challenges confronting states everywhere. Whether it is international terrorism, the deterioration of the natural environment, or even the uncertainties triggered by economic downturns, human beings are subject to a range of threats and dangers that go well beyond the conventional security agenda that typified the security concerns of policy-makers and academic specialists in former times (see Newman 2013).
Mark Beeson

Chapter 5. Regional Security

Abstract
Having looked primarily at the national basis of security issues in East Asia thus far, it is now time to turn to a more conventional examination of East Asia’s intra- and inter-regional relations. There are, however, some limitations in the state-centric approach that dominates conventional analyses that need to be acknowledged at the outset. Most significantly, many of the most influential interpretations of state behaviour entirely neglect the sort of domestic level analysis presented in the preceding chapter. Indeed, some of the most prominent analyses of international security suggest that the actions of states are the entirely predictable consequences of the structure of the inter-state system itself (Waltz 1979). And yet not only have these sorts of predictions about the inevitable nature of state behaviour in the post-Cold War period not materialized (Waltz 1993), but the very structure of the international system itself has also undergone a profound metamorphosis. The predicted return to a ‘normal’, multipolar system has not happened, even if it is beginning to look slightly more possible (Schweller 2011). We may not be living in quite the sort of unipolar system that distinguished the administration of George W. Bush at the height of its powers (Daadler and James Lindsay 2003), but nor are we in an era of unambiguous multipolarity either.
Mark Beeson

Chapter 6. Nationalism and Domestic Politics

Abstract
East Asia has attracted most attention over recent decades because of its remarkable, and historically unprecedented, economic development. But before we explore how so many East Asian countries escaped from poverty quite as quickly as they did, we need to consider the political context within which this development occurred. It is one of the animating ideas of this entire volume that politics and economics are intimately linked. Economic governance implies the existence of an institutionalized political order in which arm’s-length relationships can develop. The precise nature of such social relationships is generally determined by political contestation, even if their outcome is far from inevitable. There is no reason to suppose that East Asia (or anywhere else, for that matter), will inevitably reproduce the earlier European experience, despite the obvious advantages that many of the latter’s institutional innovations conferred on the West (Morris 2010; North and Thomas 1973). On the contrary, the recent sub-optimal performance of most ‘Western’ economies and the resilience of their Asian counterparts has raised questions about precisely which part of the world might have the best institutions for economic development and ‘good governance’, leading some to suggest that a synthesis may be both possible and desirable (Berggruen and Gardels 2013).
Mark Beeson

Chapter 7. East Asia’s Developmental States

Abstract
One of the most distinctive and original features of East Asia’s political and economic history since the Second World War has been the emergence of what has been described as the ‘developmental state’. In the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis (discussed in Chapter 10), many observers thought we had heard the last of the developmental state, which seemed anachronistic and associated with cronyism and corruption. A number of recent developments suggest that it may be premature to write it off, however (Stubbs 2009, 2012). First, the reputation and influence of Anglo-American capitalism has been diminished substantially as a consequence of economic crises in North America and Europe (Posner 2010; Wu 2010). Second, the fact that China has adopted what can only be seen as a very successful model of development that is much closer to the developmental state pattern than it is to the now discredited neoliberal alternative has renewed interest in the interventionist model, as we shall see in Chapter 8. Because the East Asian experience has potentially important lessons for other parts of the world where development is still sorely needed (Fukuyama 2004; Sachs 2005), and because its imprint is still clearly evident across East Asia, it is important to examine it more closely.
Mark Beeson

Chapter 8. The China Model?

Abstract
It is hard to overstate the significance of the ‘rise of China’ for the world, let alone for East Asia. Even if this is more of a re-emergence than an entrance on to the world stage, it is a development of long-term global significance, the consequences of which will reverberate throughout the twenty-first century. For East Asia in particular, China’s re-emergence as a world power presents enormous opportunities and challenges — and even threats, perhaps. In short, whatever the leaders of China decide to do over the coming decades will have a profound influence on its neighbours and help to shape the East Asian region. As we shall see in more detail in Chapter 11, China will have a large say in deciding whether there actually is an ‘East Asian region’ as such, or whether the dominant rubric will be something more expansive and/or inclusive. It is therefore important to look at China’s developmental experience in some detail as it is already the most significant actor in the region and is likely to become increasingly so. Indeed, for some observers, it is only a question of time before China comes to ‘rule the world’ (Jacques 2009).
Mark Beeson

Chapter 9. East Asia and the Global Economy

Abstract
It has now become something of a cliché to observe that the world’s centre of economic gravity is shifting to Asia, the Asia-Pacific, or more specifically, to East Asia. It is not hard to see why: East Asia contains two of the world’s three largest economies, and if we extrapolate from current growth trends, China is on track to overtake the USA as the largest economy on the planet by 2016, according to the OECD (Moulds 2012). Even if we add the customary caveat that China has a much bigger but generally less wealthy population, this is still a quite astounding transformation in the international economic order from the one that that prevailed during most of the twentieth century. It is important to remember that, for the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, much academic analysis was preoccupied with explaining the failure — indeed, the impossibility — of development occurring in what was described as the Third World.
Mark Beeson

Chapter 10. Crises and Their Consequences

Abstract
For much of the period following the Second World War, most of the East Asian region was synonymous with rapid, largely unexpected economic development. However, much of the positive commentary — and selfpromotion — that occurred as the ‘Asian miracle’ spread from Northeast to Southeast Asia suddenly disappeared following the economic crisis that engulfed the region in the late 1990s. The crisis itself was consequently a profoundly important event in the history of the region. Ironically enough, however, its aftermath arguably did more than anything else in fact to help create a sense of a distinctive East Asian region — though this came at the cost of tremendous damage to the region’s material circumstances and reputation. Devastating as the crisis was for much of the region, it is remarkable how quickly it re-emerged as a key centre of global economic activity. Indeed, when a second ‘global financial crisis’ (GFC) hit the region in the late 2000s, the region not only proved to be comparatively immune to its impact, but it was widely seen as one of the few bright spots and potential growth engines in the global economy.
Mark Beeson

Chapter 11. The Evolution of East Asian Regionalism

Abstract
For a region that is synonymous with difference and diversity, it is remarkable that any progress towards formal regional institutionalization should have taken place. After all, regionalism is associated with the self-conscious pursuit of political co-operation and co-ordination, something that the region’s often traumatic history and the rather obsessive preoccupation with national sovereignty would seem to preclude. And yet this is the reality: not only is Southeast Asia home to one of the most enduring inter-governmental organizations outside Europe — ASEAN — but the region as a whole has displayed a much greater interest in the possibility of developing a wider, more ambitious and inclusive East Asian institutional architecture than history might lead us to expect. Indeed, until relatively recently, it looked as though East Asian regionalism was an idea whose time had finally come. Now, however, such prospects look rather less certain, and there is a renewed contest to define the very boundaries of the region.
Mark Beeson

Chapter 12. East Asian Futures

Abstract
The EU has often been taken as the role model for regional integration and co-operation. For many admirers of the EU, this was entirely appropriate, as the EU’s very existence seemed to mark an epochal shift in the nature of the international system (Manners 2002). While there are still important points of comparison (Murray 2010), the EU’s current problems mean that one might be forgiven for thinking that the attractiveness of regional co-operation has diminished markedly of late. One might be right. For some observers, it is now the West that should be learning from Asia, rather than the reverse (Mahbubani 2012). Plainly, the EU’s problems have caused many observers to reconsider the benefits, much less the inevitability, of regional integration — especially the sorts of technically and politically complex agreements that underpinned the common currency. While there is now even less appetite in the East Asian region for such ambitious projects, as we saw in the previous chapter, there are still compelling reasons for putting in place at least some forms of cooperative arrangements, especially in areas where earlier inadequacies and vulnerabilities have painfully been exposed. At some level, therefore, East Asian regionalism is an idea that refuses to go away.
Mark Beeson
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