AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 102

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Session 102: Regional Politics in Asia

The China Factor in Japan's Southeast Asia Policy
Dennis D. Trinidad, De La Salle University, Philippines

There are three factors that could possibly lead to readjustment in Japan’s relations with Southeast Asia in the 21st century. First is the constraints imposed by the economy and changes in domestic politics. Another is the new regionalism in East Asia including ASEAN’s move towards greater integration, and finally, the rise to prominence of China in the region. This paper explores the implications of China’s regional ascendancy to Japan’s Southeast Asia policy. It argues that China’s economic rise has led Japan to improve further its commitment to ASEAN goal of integration and upgrade its ties with member-countries both at regional and bilateral levels. This is manifested by Japan’s recent strategic initiatives in the region. The paper highlights the changes in Japan’s ODA strategy in Southeast Asia, its EPA initiatives, and contributions to Mekong sub-regional development. The research concludes whether or not Japanese activities in the region complement or compete with China’s.

Japan in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM): A Return to Asia?
Bart Gaens, University of Helsinki, Finland

It is the aim of my paper to examine the role of Japan as a regional actor in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), an inter-regional and informal dialogue forum established in 1996. Following the theoretical framework provided by Smith and Vichitsorasatra (2007), the paper will analyze material interests, identity-building processes, and institutional factors that have shaped Japan’s stance towards “Asia”. Examining Japanese political discourse as well as concrete action in the form of sponsored initiatives within ASEM, I will argue that the forum reveals Japan’s gradually changing policy towards Asia. In particular the paper will explore Japan’s support for inclusive membership of a comprehensively-defined Asian community, the projection of a national agenda, stance vis-à-vis a re-emerging China, and the country’s own claims for a steering role in regional integration.

"U.S. Attitudes and Policies Towards and Policies Towards Asian Regionalism in the Post-Cold War Era"
K. S. Nathan, Independent Scholar, Malaysia

ICAS-7, HONOLULU, HAWAII, 31 MARCH – 3 APRIL 2011 PAPER TITLE: U.S. Attitudes and Policies Towards and Policies Towards Asian Regionalism in the Post-Cold War Era" ABSTRACT The engagement of the United States in Asia during the Cold War was largely driven by ideological and strategic considerations, especially the desire to contain the expansion of international communism in the region. U.S. attitudes and approaches were underscored by the Containment Doctrine, targeting mainly China in Asia and North Vietnam in Southeast Asia. In the Cold War context of bipolarity, the U.S. was suspicious of the trend of neutralism and non-alignment expressed by Asian states especially India. However, in the post-Cold War context issuing from the demise of international communism and the rise of globalization, American attitudes and policies towards Asia are apparently undergoing a fundamental transformation. The concept of “Pax Americana” is itself being diluted by the rise of Asian powers especially China and India, and also the growing role and political/diplomatic influence of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The changing character of Asia’s political economy is also an important factor affecting American perceptions, attitudes, and role in Asia. This paper argues that U.S. attitudes and policies are being obliged to adjust to the changing strategic scenario of East Asian regionalism with the rising economic power and influence of Asian powers, China and India, in the early 21st century, and increasing pressures for security multilateralism with a more important role for the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). The paper also argues that while APEC’s influence may be declining (a forum in which the U.S. has greater leverage), and while Asian states were weary of Bush-style unilateralism in the wake of 9/11, the U.S. role in Asia still remains pre-eminent by default. Thus what we may be observing in Asian security is the existence of a consensual “Pax Americana” in which the U.S. is still the critical provider of Asia-Pacific security. The paper concludes that the Obama Administration is taking cognizance of these sentiments and trends in Asian regionalism and is attempting to respond by configuring an Asian policy based more on multilateralism and partnership. The best evidence of this new trend in U.S. Asian policy is Washington’s endorsement of ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in July 2009. How Obama is crafting his new strategy towards Asia’s “new regionalism”, Asia’s response thus far, and the challenges and prospects for U.S. policy in Asia, will be the major points of investigation and analysis. Prof. Dr. K.S. Nathan Head, Centre for American Studies (KAMERA) Institute of Occidental Studies (IKON) National University of Malaysia (UKM) 34600 UKM Bangi, Selangor MALAYSIA Tel: (603) 8921-3508 H/P: (6012 391-6536 Fax: (603) 8921-3443 Email: ksnathan@ukm.my; nathan200846@yahoo.com 4 August 2010

Smaller States’ Alignment Choices in the Face of a Rising Great Power: The Cases of ASEAN States’ China Policies
Cheng-Chwee Kuik, National University of Malaysia, Malaysia

This is a study about smaller states’ alignment choices. It examines how and why four ASEAN states – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines – have responded to a rising China the way they have. The study suggests that these states’ policies share four basic features: economically, a pragmatic approach to maximize commercial benefits; diplomatically, an engagement policy to integrate China into regional institutions; politically, a dominance-denial position to prevent Beijing from evolving into an unchecked hegemon; and militarily, an indirect-balancing stance to prepare for a possible scenario of failed engagement. Despite these similarities, however, the policies are different in one aspect. That is, while Malaysia and Thailand have demonstrated a greater readiness to accommodate and utilize China’s growing power as a force to pursue its own interests, Singapore and Indonesia – due to their own domestic and geopolitical concerns – have rejected such a limited-bandwagoning approach. These reveal that smaller states often do not have to choose between balancing and bandwagoning; rather, under conditions of high-uncertainties and high-stakes, states tend to exhibit different degrees of “hedging” behavior, which, in essence, is a two-pronged approach of maximizing benefits while simultaneously preparing for contingency. The paper argues that the substance of smaller states’ reactions toward a rising power is not determined by their concerns over the growing power gap per se; rather, it is a function of domestic legitimation through which ruling elites seek to capitalize on the dynamics of the rising power for the ultimate goal of justifying their own political authority at home.

China’s Soft Power in Southeast Asia: What Has Beijing Accomplished?
Mingjiang Li, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Many international observers argue that China has pursued a soft power strategy in Southeast Asia in the past decade or so. The existing literature has provided abundant evidence of China’s “charm offensive” or “smiling diplomacy” in this part of the world. Yet very few scholars have asked these questions: What has China accomplished by adopting a soft power strategy in Southeast Asia? To what extent has China’s soft power approach changed the regional order in Southeast Asia? This paper attempts to address the above two questions. The paper will first analyze China’s major foreign policy goals behind the soft power strategy. It will then examine some of the major elements in China’s soft power approach to Southeast Asia. The third part reviews major achievements that China has made in its relations with Southeast Asian countries. I will then compare the outcomes in regional international relations that China’s soft power policy has engendered with the original Chinese policy goals that had propelled China on a soft power track. On this basis, we would be able to gauge what Beijing’s soft power approach has accomplished in the region. At the end of the paper, we will also be able to identify whether there have been some failures or drawbacks in China’s soft power strategy in Southeast Asia. I will briefly discuss some of the major reasons for these failures.