ASEAN AS A MOVER OF ASIAN REGIONALISM

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1 CHAPTER 30 ASEAN AS A MOVER OF ASIAN REGIONALISM Akiko Fukushima Introduction Since the launch of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in November 1989 the month in which the Berlin Wall collapsed, marking the end of the Cold War a succession of regional architectures have been created. The Asia-Pacific region, once considered arid ground in which regionalism could not take root, has witnessed the rapid emergence of so many regional architectures that, at times, they even compete. According to today s wisdom, they represent the strata of the multilayered regional architecture. ASEAN has driven regionalism in Asia with its ASEAN Plus initiatives that have been vital in realising dialogues on common issues. This is in stark contrast to the Cold War period, when the lack of a common enemy, as well as historical, cultural and economic diversity including historical animosities and mutual distrust fuelled scepticism regarding the merits of regional co-operation. However, ASEAN s role in Asia-Pacific regionalism, notably in the areas of APEC s remit, has gained weight over the years, both in terms of the group as well as of the individual Member States. The launching of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), an Asia-Pacific security dialogue, reflects both the role of ASEAN in meeting particular needs of the region. ASEAN has functioned as a primary partner for Japan, which the grouping has included in the fabric of regional co-operation that it has woven over the past four decades and served as an essential subject for researchers in Japan working in regionalism. 221

2 222 Akiko Fukushima ASEAN s place in regional architectures is recognised as significant by other players in the region, notably as demonstrated by the US-ASEAN ten Members summit meeting in Singapore at the margins of the APEC leaders meeting in November Moreover, despite its long reluctance to do so, the United States finally signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in summer 2009, allowing it to join ASEAN Plus Six, also called the East Asia Summit (EAS). Given the climate for co-operation in East Asia and the wider Asia- Pacific region, this chapter examines how ASEAN has driven regionalism and considers how the grouping might play a role as the Asia-Pacific architecture evolves. Evolution of Regional Architecture Since the End of the Cold War The 20th anniversary of the end of the Cold War was feted in November 2009 in Europe. But there could be no such celebration in the Asia-Pacific, which still suffers from lingering Cold War legacies, such as territorial issues. Nevertheless, there have been changes over the past two decades, as countries in the region gradually democratised their political systems and their thriving economies became more interdependent with the advent of globalisation. While economic activity in East Asia was more inter- than intra-regional, with the major export market being the United States, economic needs did not compel Asia-Pacific countries to consider forging a customs union or economic community. But their economies have undergone a sea change. Figures for 2008 reveal that, as a result of globalisation and the phenomenal economic growth of Member States, East Asia has been witnessing growing intra-regional trade (62%), which has outstripped trade with the European Union (48%) and NAFTA (47%), according to statistics issued by the Institute of Developing Economics, Japan External Trade Organization, (IDE-JETRO) as well as investment information and transnational production network figures. These factors reflect deeper economic interdependence and the trend is irreversible. Intra-regional economic interdependence has led to bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) and economic partnership agreements (EPAs) that, in turn, have led to new Asian frameworks for co-operation in economic, politico-security and other matters. Although the current architectures are mainly to facilitate dialogue, and are even dubbed talk shops by some, a number of the constructs have started to promote co-operation on issues

3 ASEAN as a Mover of Asian Regionalism 223 regarding which countries can expect more effective solutions than were they to act alone. Examples are functional issues such as finance, terrorism, pandemics, piracy, disaster prevention and consequence management, environment protection, climate change, food security and energy security. Co-operation on these matters is often triggered by a calamity, such as a financial crisis (as occurred in 1997 and 2008), a terrorist attack, an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) or influenza caused by viruses that have adapted to birds the so-called avian flu and the occurrence of tsunamis, earthquakes and forest fires. Today, the Asia-Pacific embraces numerous regional architectures, while 20 years ago, there were almost none besides ASEAN. Debate has grown as regional architectures for co-operation have been layered atop bilateral FTAs, EPAs, bilateral security alliances and other multilateral frameworks with Track 1, Track 1.5 and Track 2 arrangements. One cannot but question the value of regional architectures when, for example, one regional grouping asserts that it is the main vehicle in East Asian community-building, while another claims that its role is significant. And one should not overlook those who promote different geographical footprints solely for the purpose of having themselves included in particular architectures. The resulting competition among groupings is often portrayed as East Asia vis-à-vis the Asia-Pacific. Furthermore, in recent years we have witnessed the growth of plurilateral or trilateral groupings, such as Japan-China-ROK, Japan-ROK-US and Japan- US-Australia architectures. Despite this complex if not chaotic terrain of regional associations, there is no end to the proposals for new regional groupings, although the trend in Asia is not to select one particular architecture with which to work, but to accept that the most appropriate is the one that survives. This echoes Darwin s theory of the survival of the fittest. ASEAN has been a catalyst in promoting regional architectures. Since the 1980s, it has promoted discussion in ASEAN Plus dialogues with discourse partners including the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the European Union. This has resulted in the Post Ministerial Meeting of foreign ministers of ASEAN and dialogue partners, a framework which has allowed countries to grow accustomed to a regional dialogue. In 1997, ASEAN launched ASEAN Plus Three ( Japan, China, and the Republic of Korea), and in 2005 ASEAN Plus Six (adding Australia, New Zealand and India) that is also referred to as the East Asia Summit. Although the invitation to the Plus Three countries was issued by 1997 ASEAN Summit host Malaysia prior to the outbreak of the financial crisis,

4 224 Akiko Fukushima the grave situation motivated countries to make ASEAN Plus Three meetings an annual event. The grouping hammered out the Chiang Mai Initiative a web of bilateral currency swap agreements that are to be activated in the event of another crisis which was enhanced recently to better cope with the 2008 crisis triggered by the failure of Lehman Brothers, as well as an Asia Bond Market Initiative. Since 2002, the +3 nations have been conspicuous for their exclusive threesome meetings at the margins of the ASEAN Plus Three summit, so ASEAN clearly has been instrumental in launching and running regional constructs in East Asia. When APEC was launched in 1989, ASEAN feared it might be swallowed by the bigger players in the region and debated whether it should participate. After witnessing the evolution of APEC, ASEAN launched ARF to foster dialogue and consultation, and promote confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the region for security. While Canada and Australia proposed a similar security dialogue to mirror the Conference on Security Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the region could not endorse the idea. Moreover, when Japan had earlier proposed a security dialogue at the ASEAN post-ministerial meeting, it also had not been able to elicit support from ASEAN and dialogue partners. When the proposal came from ASEAN, however, it took shape and has continued to develop since its launch, albeit criticism concerning its limitations has not been lacking. ASEAN also has taken other initiatives: the inclusion of Russia and the United States in the EAS every other year, when APEC is held in Asia, to accommodate the wishes of those countries and to avoid the divide in the Asia-Pacific region over the EAS. In October 2010, the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) also launched an initiative called the ADMM+8, to organise a meeting of defence ministers in the region. It was the first Defence Ministers Forum at Track 1 level in the region. Several other factors have placed ASEAN at the core of Asian regional architectures over the past two decades. One factor is its solidarity, illustrated by its plan to launch ASEAN communities and the conclusion of the ASEAN Charter. Another is its deference to the ASEAN Way, which respects national sovereignty and embraces the principle of noninterference. The ASEAN Way depends on consensus-building rather than coercion, thereby creating a space that is comfortable for all Member States, particularly those reluctant to adapt their approach. The ASEAN Way has made regional policy implementation more palatable for all, although it has occasionally caused frustration and irritation among those who would like to see regionalism develop more speedily.

5 ASEAN as a Mover of Asian Regionalism 225 Track 1.5 and Track 2 dialogues have further added to the terrain, and have been useful for the evolution of regional architectures by recommending ideas that cannot come from Track 1 discussions. Thus it is that the Shangri-la Dialogue, organised by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, was launched in 2002 and holds meetings annually in Singapore. The dialogue is a gathering of academics and journalists, as well as the defence ministers and top military officials of most Asia-Pacific countries, and it provides participants with an opportunity to conduct defence and security diplomacy. Thus defence ministers in the region have a chance to meet, as do foreign ministers at ARF gatherings. Many of the existing regional groupings were initiated and coordinated by ASEAN, with the exception of APEC, since some newer Member States of ASEAN are not yet participating economies. Thus ASEAN has ploughed what was once considered infertile ground in the interests of regionalism in Asia. Asia-Pacific Regional Architecture of the Future There is cause for concern when regional groupings are numerous and form multiple layers that are not necessarily linked to each other. During his term as Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd expressed concern that none of the existing Asia-Pacific regional mechanisms (as then configured) were capable of engaging in the full spectrum of dialogue, co-operation and action on economic and political matters, or of meeting future challenges to security. Moreover, he believed that existing architectures were not only numerous, but also porous, pliable and compete with each other. A combination of economic and security dialogues, all in the same architecture, would be ideal, he had suggested, proposing the setting up of an Asia-Pacific community (APC) that would span the entire Asia-Pacific region, integrating all important states. Meanwhile, it should not be forgotten that Japan has been promoting the building of an East Asian community since the time of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, with the most recent nod in that direction having come from then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama (in power from September 2009 until June 2010) in his address to the UN General Assembly in 2009 and his subsequent speeches delivered in Asian countries. When the proposals were made and later, until both prime ministers were replaced, it had been suggested by some observers that proposals

6 226 Akiko Fukushima concerning the formation of an APC (as proposed by Australia) and an East Asian community (as suggested by Japan) were counterproductive. Rather than putting forward two separate ideas for a regional architecture, it had been said, Japan and Australia which had collaborated in launching APEC two decades ago should have co-ordinated their proposals. Viewed from Tokyo, multilateral co-operation in Asia or in the wider Asia- Pacific was not an option but, rather, essential if Japan were to cope with the transnational challenges it faced. Even now, although Rudd and Hatoyama are no longer prime ministers, in order to understand what role ASEAN might play in an Asia-Pacific architecture of the future, one must ponder the kind of Asia-Pacific architecture that is likely to evolve, and that one is likely to want to build for regional co-operation and to what end. It should also be decided whether we are going to keep existing multilayered architecture for regional co-operation, or are going to build or choose a single, new grouping to bring together existing constructs; whether the geographical footprint of regional architecture should be East Asia or Asia-Pacific; and whether ASEAN 10 as a group will remain in the driver s seat, or select Members of ASEAN will share the driving with non-asean Members. In considering the regional architecture of the future, it is necessary to identify the intermediate goals by which to attain the ultimate objective: a community enjoying peace and prosperity. Given the deepening interdependence of states and growing transnational issues, regional co-operation soon will be essential for economic and politico-security reasons. The security issues that the Asia-Pacific faces are not limited to traditional matters, and include such non-traditional issues as human security, food security, energy security, climate change, pandemics and natural disasters. The scope of security challenges is becoming ever more versatile, which demands multilateral and multitasked co-operation in the region. While one cannot alone deal effectively with aspects of security, the gradual shifts of power distribution, most notably the rise of China and India, demand that countries hedge as well as engage and co-operate. So what kind of regional architecture do we want in the future? Good would be a single architecture embracing all our stated objectives. Covering both security and economy in a single architecture would allow us to handle both more effectively, as the two are more interlinked than

7 ASEAN as a Mover of Asian Regionalism 227 ever. However, such a move is hard to realise as we have witnessed in the debate over the APC. Meanwhile a number of regional architectures have been developed to the level of the need for non-proliferation, but none would seem to suffice. One is hard pressed to choose any particular grouping from among those that currently exist, and there is no lack of zeal to create another regional construct. We should also note that existing architectures have shown their capacity to grow, as we have witnessed in such ASEAN initiatives in the ADMM plus and in the EAS s invitation to the United States and Russia. Therefore, in my view, the most realistic approach is to allow the current architectures to develop in the knowledge that the ones achieving their objectives will survive. I believe that the region needs the multilateral frameworks now in place, as well as the bilateral ones. In addition, ad hoc regional co-operation on niche topics, such as disaster relief and piracy control, would pave the way for future regional community-building. The Role of ASEAN as the Asia-Pacific Architecture Evolves ASEAN, meanwhile, faces numerous hurdles. For ASEAN, it is a challenge to develop its own communities and to forge solidarity, which is essential if ASEAN is to drive regional architectures in the future. ASEAN, with its Charter, has decided to take a more rules-based than consensus-based approach, and to co-operate on sensitive issues such as human rights. While the association certainly suffers from divisions that need patching, it is no easy feat to make one pot of soup with ten cooks. While the flexible ASEAN Way has worked so far for all concerned in the Asia-Pacific, frustration over outcomes of regional co-operation is mounting on the part of ASEAN Plus groupings in ASEAN Member States, with the ASEAN Charter, the ASEAN Way may evolve further. As ASEAN Member States forge bilateral EPAs and FTAs with non-members and strengthen bilateral relations, this may have an impact on ASEAN as a group. Meanwhile, the Japan-China-ROK summit was launched in Northeast Asia in 2008, independent of ASEAN Plus Three, and this may yet lead to closer subregional co-operation and combine with the six-party process. Together with continued ASEAN initiatives to advance Asian regionalism, such as the expansion of the EAS, and the launch of ADMM+ 8, ASEAN has the potential to remain a mover and a shaker.

8 228 Akiko Fukushima Concluding Observations Japan has collaborated with ASEAN Member States over the past four decades. Although a common perception is that this partnership has been mainly in the economic field, relations have actually been broader. One illustration is Japan s contribution to peace-keeping and peace-building, in the form of the dispatch of self-defence troops to Timor Leste following independence-related talks there on 30 August 1999 and the ensuing outbreak of violence. Although some ASEAN Member States most notably, the Philippines and Thailand were willing to send troops for peacekeeping duty, they needed funding to make this possible, so Japan pledged US$100 million at the United Nations to enable the troops to be sent. The gesture reflects the degree to which Japan has benefited from its ties with ASEAN and the resultant fostering of regional co-operation. In my view, Japan should continue to build on this precious relationship. For the time being, the multiplicity of regional architectures plurilateral, subregional and regional should be accepted and results should be derived through functional and pragmatic co-operation that lends itself to the development of a common agenda, such as in the areas of politicosecurity and economics, as well as in social and cultural fields. Cultural relations and intellectual infrastructures considerations that are often pushed aside would, in turn, pave the way for further co-operation. In Asia it will take time for countries to yield even a small part of their sovereignty for the sake of regional community-building. But what counts is the process involved and the sharing of the vision for regional co-operation, because that is what will lead to the ultimate goal of regional architectures, namely, peace and prosperity. The process of regional co-operation and architecture-building will enable countries to understand first-hand that, while it is harder to realise than bilateral co-operation, regional co-operation has the major merit of being able to turn intra-regional antipathy into empathy.

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