Asia-Pacific Economic and Security Cooperation: New Regional Agendas/Governing the Asia Pacific: Beyond the "New Regionalism"

By Low, Linda | Journal of Southeast Asian Economies, December 2005 | Go to article overview

Asia-Pacific Economic and Security Cooperation: New Regional Agendas/Governing the Asia Pacific: Beyond the "New Regionalism"


Low, Linda, Journal of Southeast Asian Economies


Asia-Pacific Economic and security Cooperation: New Regional Agendas. Edited by C. M. Dent. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Pp 271.

Governing the Asia Pacific: Beyond the "New Regionalism". Edited by K. Jayasuriya. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Pp 192.

Both edited volumes by Christopher Dent and Kanishka Jayasuriya together marshal respectively twelve and nine eminent chapters on the Asia-Pacific Economie Co-operation (APEC) from a multidisciplinary armament of economics, politics, and political economy, and equally encompassing geography. Both share a certain predilection beyond the economics of APEC into political-security and regional governance rooted in domestic coalitions which are inevitably socio-political. They thus complement and supplement each other very effectively. Unsurprisingly, APEC is the primary pioneering case study together with ASEAN, ASEAN Plus Three, and new bilateralism in the Asia-Pacific region in both volumes.

With the hindsight of the Asian crisis and the 11 September 2001 Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States, and with global reverberations and consequences, Dent's volume revisits the Asia-Pacific through three prime analytical lens. One is the tension between post-shock forces of imperative co-operation and the counter-forces of Asia-Pacific complex diversity. Two is the growing conflation between economic and security issues or the economic-security nexus in Asia-Pacific international relations. Finally, there is the relationship between Asia-Pacific's new economic and security bilateralism and regional-level forms of co-operation, integration, and governance.

Accordingly, Dent's edited volume in four sections has Part 1 developing the three "prime dimensions", Part 2 covers the global contexts, Part 3 the regional overviews, and Part 4 on the micro-geographic, subregional perspectives on events and developments. The "prime dimensions" thematic framework offers further conceptual and theorizing as new forms and structures of foreign economic policies incorporating security are the realistic consequences of both the Asian crisis with poor political and corporate governance affecting economic security as much as September 11 directly impinges on security.

Part 2 saw Asia-Pacific regionalism having the potential as a substitute for the Washington consensus, which began to fail even the United States as its domestic recession broke, also demonstrated by the Japanese challenge of its AMF even if that was stillborn with the United States' veto. The Asian crisis may be blamed for the missed opportunity for Asia-Pacific regionalism, but, in truth, that was a much needed blessing in disguise to show the bad roads and bad drivers in the reckless drive and exuberance of Asian "miracle" economies.

In the final analysis, the Washington consensus minus its American imperial "Washington" prefix, may still have some good points on good governance as a fundamental building bloc. That Asia-Pacific by and large is not quite globalization-ready, with globalization's impact on security, including human security and its impact on economic, environmental, societal, and military revived. As much as East Asian regionalism is launched, it has to straddle globalization and harness globalization well, so long as East Asia remains dependent on the triad for trade, capital, technology, and other factor and market flows.

That the Asian crisis enforced "co-operative realism", in cognizance of the demise of the Cold War and a new regional imperative to balance globalization, institution-building and global governance as analysed in Part II. The relevance of ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Plus Three, growth triangles and bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) growing apace since 1998 are all as defining developments as reality checks. The bilateral, plurilateral figures in Chapter 5 are not just artistically elegant, they have a lot of both "thinking regionally, acting bilaterally" overtones and "not-so-silent" undertones which are far from being a closed book. …

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