Regional Community Building in Northeast Asia in a Global Context*

By Lim, Hyun-Chin; Hwang, Suk-Man et al. | Development and Society, June 2013 | Go to article overview

Regional Community Building in Northeast Asia in a Global Context*


Lim, Hyun-Chin, Hwang, Suk-Man, Kim, Jong-Cheol, Development and Society


In the context of power shift from Europe to Asia, Asia is creating a new history as the most dynamic region in the world. Historically, Asian countries have long maintained cultural and institutional connections within the region through constant contact, exchange, trade, and warfare. These cultural and institutional linkages serve as a cohesive factor for Asian countries to converge on regional commonness despite intraregional disparities. When looking at Northeast Asia, the center of Asian dynamism, the regions future is beset by serious challenges and threats, complicated by historical conflicts and territorial disputes. Building a regional community is crucial to turn tension and conflict to cooperation and coexistence in the region, but it is hampered by hegemonic competition under the rise of nationalism. As a way out, they should take both economic and cultural approaches toward the creation of regional community according to bilateral principles based upon one-to-one negotiations. In this regard, the non-expansionary stance of Korea so far gives her a moral hegemonic precedence over China and Japan in Northeast Asian community building.

Keywords: Regional Community Building Rise of Asia, Northeast Asia, Regional Bloc

(ProQuest: ... denotes non-US-ASCII text omitted.)

Introduction

Today the world stands in the midst of enormous turbulence. Long time ago Marshall McLuhan's coinage of the "global village" raised great expectations about the harmonious coexistence of all mankind. We find that, however, in the process of globalization, "global village" has turned out to be an awful reality of "global pillage." Indeed, the world is plagued by war, violence, and terrorism in the form of cultural collision, ethnic disputes, and racial conflict combined with poverty, starvation, and oppression. Against this backdrop, this paper attempts to propose a regional community building as an alternative to the "deep" globalization, which tends to ignore difference among countries and cause many problems by forcing countries to introduce neo-liberal reforms (Rodrik 2011).

The current global order bears testimony to the breakdown of the U. S.-led unipolar system. Some people envision the future of the global disorder, known as "G-0," from the "non-polar" or "anti-polar" perspective, while others point out the multi-polar realignment of power amid the rapid growth of regional blocs taking the place of the global supremacy that has persisted since the Second World War (Pieterse 2011, p. 123). However, Chinas rise and Europe's downfall provide a vivid portrayal of hegemonic shift. China takes the place of Europe within G2 to stand abreast with the U.S. In such a hegemonic shift from the Netherlands through the UK and the U.S. to China, the global center has also moved from the Atlantic, between Europe and the U.S., to the Pacific, linking the U.S. and China. To put it simply the world is witnessing a power shift from Europe to Asia.

Asia, especially countries in Northeast Asia, can be a locus of coming power shift. Countries in this region have shared many cultural similarities and been interconnected with each other in various ways, especially among Korea, China, and lapan. The cooperation among three countries is vital for the future of Asia and even for the world; however, there are many obstacles to overcome in order to forge a regional community in Northeast Asia. The modern history riddles three countries how to achieve the community in this region. Three countries are in a sense flawed to be a leader to form a community; Korea and lapan are afraid of giant China, lapan has a notorious modern history of atrocity done against Asia, and Korea is not big enough to assume a leadership. This paper, however, argues that Korea can play an important catalyst role in achieving the regional community building. In order to argue this, we review the current state of regional community building in a global historical context. …

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