chapter  13
13 Pages

New modes of regionalising governance in Asia


Regional governance, the principal theme of this volume, refers to the management of the conflicts created through growing interdependencies within a specific – albeit ideologically constructed – geographical region through the creation of institutional forums, policy instruments and networks of private and public actors. As such, regional governance encompasses those institutions, instruments and mechanisms that allocate political power, influence material stakes and shape the ideological representation of the region itself. In other words, as Thomas (Chapter 1) observes, governance is principally concerned with policies and politics; or rather, various techniques of governance represent a particular form of political rule over the region. The advantage of approaching governance as a technique of political rule is that it enables us to ask these basic questions: Who rules? What is the domain of rule? How is political rule organised? Regional governance, viewed through this prism, is a distinctively political

exercise and to the extent that particular forms of regional governance become dominant, it is only as a component of a particular governance project underpinned by a favourable conjunction of national coalitions and international, political, economic and strategic conditions. Regional governance, as the activation of political projects, is a notion well exemplified in Caballero-Anthony’s chapter (Chapter 2), which explores the potential of the ASEAN+3 (ASEAN states along with China, Korea and Japan) process to become the basis of a governance project within the Asian region. This is a similar approach to analyses of the domestic foundation of open regionalism and its underlying political economy of embedded mercantilism which have been undertaken elsewhere.1 However, as several chapters in this volume suggest, this political economy of embedded mercantilism and its associated theory and practice of regional governance is now in transition. But the question is: transition to what? This is not a question that is easily answered. The governance processes

identified in this volume not only reflect a transition to a new phase in the ongoing process of creating and making regional order, but more

significantly they involve the creation of a new form of regionalised governance in which the ‘regional’ becomes a particular spatial scale on which economic, political and social governance takes place. It is this regionalisation of governance that leads to the emergence of a new mode of regulatory regionalism that is as much located within the national state as it is within regional institutions. As Cammack has noted, this involves a meta-governmental role that is geared ‘towards promoting states to compete with each other in ways that promote rather than run counter to competitiveness on a global scale’.2

This regulatory regionalism is complex, more diffused, uses a variety of both public and private actors, works within functionally defined policy sectors, and often involves policy instruments that are negotiated and implemented at multiple levels governance. In effect, the transition being witnessed here is from inter-governmental

institutional forms to policy-specific regional governance arrangements that operate at multiple scales of governance; in short, the regionalisation of governance.3 But alongside this regulatory regionalism there exists a more statecentric, geopolitically driven, ideologically constructed form of East Asian governance. From this geopolitical perspective, the crucial transition is from a Pacific-based, US-centred order to a more Sino-centric organisation.4 In fact, many of the chapters in the volume straddle these competing notions of regional governance. While the regulatory mode of regional governance is increasingly dominant over the state-centric mode, in the foreseeable future regional politics will continue to be shaped by the contradictions and tensions between these two modes of regional governance. The struggles within, and between, these systems of governance are at root a question of politics and power. In some ways these two competing systems of governance could be ana-

logous to the shift from government to governance within systems of national politics and policy-making institutions. Government is usually viewed as a mode of policy making focused on its traditional instruments of public administration, which are centralised, hierarchal and dependent on modes of governing that require ‘rowing rather than steering’. On the other hand, governance is focused on the use of a variety of actors both public and private, fragmented forms of governance, the creation of meta-governance systems to regulate the governance of governance, and dependent on flexible modes of governance.5 It is exactly these new modes of governance that feature prominently in the transition to regulatory regionalism. Here, I propose to identify the central themes of this volume by examining key aspects of this transformation of regional governance. This transformation is analysed in terms of its causes and consequences, new issues and actors, and policy instruments.