Chapter 1: What Region to Lead? Developments in East Asian Regionalism and Questions of Regional Leadership
Christopher M. Dent 1. INTRODUCTION East Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic, diverse and important regions. It is also becoming an increasingly coherent region through the interplay of various integrative economic, political and socio-cultural processes. This development is generally referred to as ‘regionalism’, and is highly relevant to questions of regional leadership in East Asia. For there to be regional leadership, there must be some sort of coherent regional entity to lead. However, this is problematic in the sense that the very nature and demarcations of the East Asia region are contested and it has extradimensional aspects. For example, should an East Asia regional community be based on an ASEAN Plus Three or East Asia Summit (that is, including India, Australia and New Zealand) grouping? Furthermore, to what extent can we disaggregate regional integrative processes in East Asia that are constituent to wider international or global integrative processes, for example regional production networks that are part of global production networks? This introductory chapter considers how East Asian regionalism has recently deepened in terms of its associative, integrational and organizational coherence, and notes the most important developments thereof. It then considers why regional leadership in East Asia is so important, and introduces the reader to the book’s key themes of discussion. These include: the functions, expectations and beneﬁts of regional leadership; matters concerning agency, structure, norms, identity and values; governance structure and issue-based perspectives; how styles and modes of regional leadership may diﬀer; and, what possible alternative...
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