chapter  30
9 Pages

The East Asia Summit: Pan-Asian multilateralism rather than intra-Asian regionalism

ByDavid Camroux

Asia, perhaps, but which ‘Asia’ is being referred to when? Other chapters in this volume indicate that the answers to this seemingly easy question are not at all self-evident. Southeast Asia as a way of referring to the ten ASEAN countries is a notion going back in common parlance only to the SecondWorldWar, and Northeast Asia, itself a default category in relation to the south, is of fairly recent lineage dating from the 1970s. As I have suggested elsewhere, in the period beginning in the last quarter of the nineteenth century with the high age of Western imperialism, and the related rise of movements for national independence, a much larger Sino-Indic conceptualization of ‘Asia’ was much more to the fore amongst Asians themselves (Camroux 2007). This notion of Asia reached its apex at the Afro-Asian summit at Bandung in 1955, an event, as Acharya (2009) has argued, that determined many of the norms of multilateral behaviour in Asia. With India’s withdrawal inwards, so to speak, following independence and within the context of the ColdWar this notion fell into abeyance until the 1990s and the ‘Look East’ policy of the then Indian Finance Minister and later Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. At this point India can be said, at least rhetorically, to have entered into the Asian developmental state schema that in various nuances is a common characteristic of developing Asia (Devare 2006).