Academic journal article Global Governance

Dual Identity and Issue Localization: East Asia in Global Governance

Academic journal article Global Governance

Dual Identity and Issue Localization: East Asia in Global Governance

Article excerpt

This article examines the sources and consequences of East Asia's participation in global governance. Despite the rhetoric of global contribution, the article argues that global governance issues are reframed in East Asia to better suit domestic and regional priorities. Specifically, two underlying mechanisms are at work to complicate, and often render ineffective, East Asia's foray into global governance: (1) the conflicting identities of the three countries at the regional and global levels; and (2) the localization of global governance issues. By examining the global role of China, Japan, and South Korea in climate change, peacekeeping, and nuclear nonproliferation, the article shows how the shared desire of enhancing global status in East Asia is tempered by the politics of dual identity and issue localization. KEYWORDS: East Asia, climate change, peacekeeping, nonproliferation.

THE IMPRESSIVE GROWTH OF CHINA HELPED PROPEL EAST ASIA'S INCREASING visibility on the global stage. Some even suggest a Group of 2, closer coordination and cooperation between the United States and China, as a future model of global governance. (1) The desire to join the global ranks, however, is not limited to China. Japan, the world's third largest economy, is a key player in areas such as climate change and overseas development assistance. South Korea has also entered the fray by pledging its troops to Afghanistan, dispatching its navy to the treacherous waters off Somalia, and hosting the Group of 20 (G-20) and the Nuclear Security Summit. Will East Asia's enthusiastic foray into the global arena translate into better global governance? What are the likely consequences of East Asia's increasing global presence for regional relations in East Asia?

To address these questions, in this article I examine the growing tension between East Asia's pursuit of global roles and its preoccupation with domestic and regional considerations. In fact, different roles expected at the global level may hinder the effective management of regional priorities, or vice versa. (2) For instance, China's focus on economic growth and regional stability interferes with its global role in climate change and nuclear negotiations with North Korea and Iran. To varying degrees, Japan's and South Korea's considerations of domestic and regional priorities often shape the character and effectiveness of their involvement in global governance. By investigating the domestic debate on global roles in China, Japan, and South Korea, this article aims to explain the sources and consequences of East Asia's participation in global governance. (3) Specifically, I examine the regional and global dimensions of three global governance issue areas: climate change, peacekeeping, and nuclear nonproliferation. (4)

Assessing the global role of the three East Asian countries is important for several reasons. First, they matter in light of their potential impact on global governance (e.g., China as the biggest emitter), their capacity to meaningfully address various challenges (e.g., China's and Japan's material resources), and their unique experiences (e.g., their nuclear expertise and participation in the Six-Party Talks aimed at defusing the North Korean nuclear crisis). Second, a comparative analysis of the East Asian countries may provide insight into domestic and regional factors shaping state behavior in global governance. Despite sharing similar interests in addressing global challenges, the three countries are quite different with respect to their material capability, political system, and ideational orientation. By systematically investigating a group of countries in the same region, my research aims to shed light on the regional dimension of global governance, which can also be applicable to other regions, and its effects on global governance and regional politics.

The article is organized in the following manner. I first discuss existing accounts of East Asia's growing role on the global stage. …

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