China, Japan and Regional Leadership in East Asia
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China, Japan and Regional Leadership in East Asia

Edited by Christopher M. Dent

This book considers themes, evidence and ideas relating to the prospects for regional leadership in East Asia, with particular reference to China and Japan assuming ‘regional leader actor’ roles. Key issues discussed by the list of distinguished contributors include: • the extent to which there is an East Asian region to lead • China–Japan relations • different aspects of Japan and China’s positions in the East Asia region • how the seemingly inexorable rise of China is being addressed within the region • how China and Japan have explored paths of regional leadership through certain regional and multilateral organisations and frameworks • the position of certain ‘intermediary powers’ (i.e. the United States and Korea) with regards to regional leadership diplomacy in East Asia. Invaluably, the concluding chapter brings together the main findings of the book and presents new analytical approaches for studying the nature of, and prospects for leadership in East Asia.
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Chapter 11: The United States and East Asia: The Decline of Long-Distance Leadership?

Mark Beeson


Mark Beeson 1. INTRODUCTION One of the most influential sources of leadership in East Asia over the last 50 years or so has come from outside the region itself. Although there is some debate about the extent, basis, durability and nature of American leadership, few would dispute that the United States has exerted a powerful influence over East Asia, particularly in the period since the Second World War. While the region may not be unique in this regard – the US as the world’s sole remaining superpower has been a major factor in the development of every other region, too – East Asia’s post-war trajectory has been especially marked by American influence. Indeed, for better or worse, East Asia’s recent development history, its intraregional relations and its place in the overall international system might have been profoundly different were it not for its engagement with the United States. Whether the US will continue to exert such a powerful influence in the future is less clear, however. To understand why the US might loom so large in East Asia’s recent past and how its influence might be changing, we need to historicize its relationship with the region. This involves saying something about the nature of American power and the way it has been understood theoretically. Consequently, the chapter begins with a brief consideration of the nature of ‘American leadership’, making the point that this can be very different from the sort of institutionalized ‘structural’ power that...

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