chapter  2
34 Pages

Evolving regional governance in East Asia: From ASEAN to an East Asian Community


One of the most interesting developments in East Asia has been the launching of the East Asian Summit (EAS) in December 2005. Spearheaded by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), this decision to create yet another layer of multilateral arrangement in the region came just two years after ASEAN announced its vision of an ASEAN Community by the year 2020, at its 9th ASEAN Summit in 2003. The first EAS was held on 14 December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and in conjunction with the holding of the 11th ASEAN Summit. It brought together the ten member states of ASEAN, the three Northeast Asian states – China, Japan and Korea – plus Australia, New Zealand and India. The ‘premature’ launching of the EAS (it was only supposed to be realised

in 2010) has come at the time when ASEAN is embarking on a number of initiatives to realise its vision of an ASEAN Community. Set within the framework of Bali Concord II, the ASEAN Community was to be established through the setting up of three pillars, namely: the ASEAN Security Community (ASC), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).1 The implications of the EAS for ASEAN’s goal of an ASEAN Community and relationship of the EAS with the other main East Asian organisation – ASEAN+3 (APT) – have drawn considerable attention. While the member states of the EAS comprise the core members of APT,

its configuration (ASEAN+3+3) and strategic thrusts are supposed to be different from the latter. To be sure, these three regional groupings – ASEAN, APT and the EAS – are separate entities, despite having ASEAN as the core foundation. Moreover, even as APT can be seen as a logical extension of the Southeast Asian grouping to a larger East Asian entity, the EAS as it is presently constituted is not necessarily so path dependent. In fact, the inclusion of India and the longer-term plans to bring the United States (US), the European Union (EU) and Russia into the EAS not only defy geographical logic but also raise a number of questions as to the objectives behind the conceptualisation of the EAS.