Chapter 16: The Century Belongs to All of Us: East Asian Regionalism and World Society
Christopher M. Dent 1. INTRODUCTION There remains much speculation concerning whether the 21st century will ‘belong’ to Asia. While there is value in considering Asia’s future in the world system, ascribing ‘ownership’ of a future world epoch to any particular geopolitical power or construct may distract us from pursuing more crucial paths of scholarly enquiry. Given the escalating global-level challenges and problems that confront all humanity, it is more important to consider how may Asia, and particularly East Asia (the Asia continent’s most geopolitically significant and coherent regional entity), contribute to resolving these challenges. I argue that they are best addressed by a formative world society, and that deepening regionalism in East Asia is in some way inter-constitutive to world society formation. How the world’s different nations, peoples and civilisations peacefully co-exist and co-operate with each other to deal with increasingly serious global-level challenges (for example environmental, poverty and energy related) may be thought of as prime meta-level issues of 21st century international relations. These challenges are best addressed by a collective worldwide response, and one that derives from a coherent association and unity of purpose between various forms of agency in the global system. The creation of different forms and structures of global governance represent an endeavour towards this end, but something deeper is required. As a general principle, it is when society as a whole takes ownership and responsibility for problems affecting all its members, even though the impact of these problems is asymmetric, that they are most...
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