AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 674

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Session 674: Towards an East Asian Community

Organizer: Patrick Ziltener, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Chair: Teofilo C. Daquila, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Discussants: Takashi Terada, Doshisha University, Japan; Harold Kerbo, Independent Scholar,

Since the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) Conference in Singapore in 2003, an informal network of researchers worldwide interested in the analysis of the ongoing process of regional integration in and beyond East Asia has developed. The proposed panel takes up core issues of the current debate on the way(s) 'towards an East Asian Community' from different perspectives. In general, regional integration is theoretically conceptualized as interlinked processes of economic, political, and social integration. In the case of East Asia - the region consisting of Japan, Korea, China and the ASEAN-countries -, economic integration has already reached a level comparable to those in other world regions such as Europe and America. Regional institution-building, however, has somewhat lagged behind, although the proliferation of multilateral organizations and fora has continued in the last years (ASEAN plus 3, East Asia Summit etc.). While the profiles of these new intergovernmental institutions have remained rather fuzzy, the observable regional network of bilateral agreements, especially Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), as well as functional cooperation on trade, technology, energy, environmental and other issues have clearly intensified. Despite a increasing dynamic in the last years, social integration - measured by the development of an Asian identity and civil society linkages - remains the weakest aspect of regional integration in East Asia, which raises questions about the societal base of the envisaged East Asian Community.

Southeast Asia’s Changing Economic Landscape: Determinants and Challenges
Teofilo C. Daquila, National University of Singapore, Singapore

This paper addresses the following questions. Firstly, how has Southeast Asia’s economic landscape changed? In spite of the various disturbances that have hit the region, Southeast Asian economies and the region as a whole have experienced a significant change in its economic landscape in terms of high rates of growth, rising income levels, improvement in the standards of living, and the changing structures of production and trade, among other indicators. Secondly, what are the various determinants that have contributed to this changing landscape? This paper argues that Southeast Asia’s economic transformation has been due to national factors and policies to a large extent, and to regional integration efforts to a less extent. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this paper examines the role of geographical/physical, historical, social/cultural, political and economic factors on Southeast Asia’s changing landscape. Finally, what are the various issues and challenges facing Southeast Asia and ASEAN? These include economic diversification, competitiveness, interdependence, emerging markets, external disturbances, and increasing regionalism.

Innovation, National Interest, and Regional Integration in East Asia
Dennis L. McNamara, Georgetown University, USA

Innovation is key to upgrading cross-border manufacturing networks in East Asia to higher value-added production. High costs and rapid advances in research and development are forcing more cooperation among firms and research teams across borders. How might cooperation among China, Japan, and South Korea affect regional integration? I argue that cooperation in innovation in line with national interest will help drive regional integration in Northeast Asia among China, Japan, and South Korea. The paper begins with the concept of techno-nationalism and techno-regionalism, before turning to a definition of “open innovation.” I briefly review scale and achievement of national innovation systems in China, Japan, and South Korea with data on patents and R&D investment. I then assess openness of local systems with data on on flows of knowledge workers and inward FDI in research. A brief case study of the transition to open innovation is drawn from recent White Papers of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. In conclusion, I argue that a new techno-regionalism among firms could help states re-imagine and re-cast national interest in a regional context.

Agriculture and the Domestic Politics of Korean FTA Policy
Jemma Kim, Waseda University, Japan

Despite the diffusion of free trade agreements in the 1990’s, in what is often referred to as “the third wave” of FTAs, Korea has generally held a negative attitude toward bilateral FTAs, lauding the benefits of the WTO. However, in a dramatic turnaround, the Korean government today is actively pursuing bilateral FTAs. Why and how did these policy changes occur? Drawing on the Korean-Chile FTA and Korean-EU FTA negotiation process as case studies, this article explores the sources of change in Korea’s domestic policy thinking, in particular the shift in patterns of policy development, by empirically examining key actors, their preferences, and the dynamism of patterns between conflict and cooperation among these actors. Based on interviews with FTA policymakers within the Korean government (including officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Strategy and Finance) and key interest groups (The Federation of Korean Industries, Korean Advanced Farmers Federation), I elaborate the main factor in driving Korea’s trade policy shift.

East Asian Identity and Social Distance among China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan: Based on the East Asian Social Survey 2008
Noriko Iwai, Independent Scholar, Japan

This study investigates the social distance among four East Asian societies.  It also investigates the extent of their closeness towards the East Asian community as a whole, and explores the factors affecting their sense of closeness based on the East Asian Social Survey 2008 culture and globalization module data.  EASS project has been jointly conducted by four research teams: Chinese General Social Survey, Japanese General Social Survey, Korean General Social Survey and Taiwan Social Change Survey. Each team has incorporated a topical module into existing repeated social survey in each society with its national sample.  The results showed that South Korean and Japanese people feel close to East Asia (41.0% of South Koreas and 32.3% of Japanese), whereas 68.5% of Chinese and 52.3% of Taiwanese feel not at all close to it.  All of East Asians feel close to their own country and their town of residence.  Regarding the social distance towards other societies, South Korean have the least distance towards other societies including South Asia, North America and Europe, while China has the longest social distance towards other country.  These findings suggest that both past historical incidents and recent cultural exchanges in East Asia has an impact on the current East Asian identity.

Regional Integration in East Asia as a Reaction to Global Challenges
Patrick Ziltener, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Regional Integration in East Asia can be traced back more than 1500 years. Wars of liberation, decolonization and post-colonial nationalism, and the confrontation between the US-led western-oriented states, the Soviet bloc, and the People’s Republic of China and its allies deeply divided the region. Transnational interactions in East Asia reached a historically unprecedented low level in mid-20th century. The normalization of diplomatic relations and reform policies implemented from the late 1970s on allowed economic actors to develop transnational activities at high speed, and within little more than a decade, levels of regional integration surpassed those of most other world regions. As predicted by integration theories, rising interdependence called for political cooperation. Since the ASEAN+3 summit 2007, the creation of a „Asian Community“ is the official goal of the ASEAN states, China, Japan, and South Korea, and relations with India are developing dynamically. However, the obstacles to regional institution-building are numerous, from unsolved border issues, colonialist and nationalist legacies to external pressures and the impact of global crises. Whatever the outcome will be, it certainly will be one of the decisive factors that shape the future world order.