Prior to the Asian financial crisis in 1997, few would have seriously argued

for the creation of a system of regional financial cooperation in East Asia. Financial liberalization and market-led integration process were already

taking place in the region. The financial crisis was a watershed that gave

East Asians a strong impetus to search for a regional mechanism to prevent

future crises. This search is now gathering momentum, opening the door to

possibly significant policy-led integration in East Asia (Bergsten 2000;

Henning 2002). Bergsten noted that East Asia might be on the brink of an

historic evolution, as Europe was half a century ago.