Law, Trade and Finance
Asian Commercial, Financial and Economic Law and Policy series
Edited by Ross P. Buckley, Richard Weixing Hu and Douglas W. Arner
Chapter 1: China, the US and Regional Institution Building in East Asia
Richard Weixing Hu INTRODUCTION China and the United States are two key players in shaping future East Asian regional order and institutions. For a long time after World War II, East Asia was perceived as being institutionally underdeveloped with no region-wide political and economic institutional structure, except an American-centered network of bilateral security treaties. Yet, after the Cold War and especially after the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997–98, a rising tide of regionalism and institution-building projects appeared. There is a proliferation of regional groupings and dialogues, ranging from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN+3 and the East Asia Summit (EAS) to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). East Asian nations are organizing themselves into an ‘alphabet soup’ of multilateral groupings and organizations with overlapping membership and different mandates. This makes people wonder what kind of regional order East Asia is building and what role China and the US will play in regional institution building. China is a rising power on the global and regional stage. China’s ascent and its growing influence in East Asia have important bearings on regional order and regional institutional building. Yet, how China comes to terms with regional institutions is still an issue under debate. In order to rise peacefully, China needs a stable and prosperous regional environment for concentrating on its growth. Meanwhile, Beijing also wants to engage in regional institution building to reassure its neighbors as well as to gain normative and institutional power in shaping the future...
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