(Re)Negotiating East and Southeast Asia: Region, Regionalism, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations

By Alice D. BA | Go to book overview

TWO
ASEAN’s New Regionalisms

No one can be certain about the new boundaries created by power
shifts, only that the old ones have been eroded. This leads to a
necessity for probing, leaving retreat paths open, looking for new
ideas, and experimenting.

Donald Crone 1996: 39

In Southeast Asia, as elsewhere, the ending of the Cold War had a transformative effect on the regional landscape. For ASEAN states, it was perhaps most of all a chance to end the strategic division between communist and noncommunist Southeast Asia and to achieve its long-stated goal of “one Southeast Asia”—unified, stable, and free from intervention. Indeed, the 1990s was a decade marked by heightened diplomatic exchanges, trade linkages, and political dialogue between the ASEAN states (now six strong with Brunei’s admission in 1984) and the states of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar (the CLMV states). Those exchanges would help lay the groundwork for those states’ membership into ASEAN. The decade also saw tremendous economic growth and political stability, as well as unprecedented initiative and regional cooperation into new and expanded areas on the part of ASEAN states. In sum, the 1990s found the regional project nearly complete: National development seemed assured; regional relations were stable; and the process of incorporating Southeast Asia’s remaining members into ASEAN seemed well under way.

At the same time, changes associated with the ending of the Cold War also served as potent reminders that as much as the Cold War had divided Southeast Asia, it had also insulated Southeast Asia as a region in key ways. Uncertainties focused especially on a changing United States, China, and Japan in post—Cold War Asia, which renewed questions about Southeast Asia’s integrity as a region, major power roles, and their own ability and agency in defining a changing regional order. Consequently, as much as the decade

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