, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 29-48
Date: 10 Nov 2012

Regionalism in Competition: EU Experience and its Theoretical Implications for Asian Integration

Abstract

In parallel of rise of Asia and particularly the PRC, different approaches to Asian regionalism have emerged on international scene, which, according to the author’s detailed analysis, can be divided into four approaches. They were respectively advocated by the US, Japan, the PRC and ASEAN and have been competing with each other in their quest for leadership in Asian integration. In order to measure their potential development and impact on Asian regionalism, the author took reference of the similar competition in the European integration between 1950 and 1974 and its theoretical explanation. The author then formulated a framework of analysis composed of four indicators in the region: power structure, cooperation of transnational elite, potential spillover of the original integrated sector and the institutional building. Having evaluated the four approaches to Asian regionalism with help of these indicators, the author concluded that the US-led Trans-Pacific regionalism still dominates Asian integration for the US is far more powerful than any other individual powers or any coalitions in the region. It could easily mobilize those pro-US elite throughout Asia. The pathfinder and later TPP in APEC could serve as an integrated sector potentially producing spillover in related fields. However, American approach’s Achilles’ Heel is its failure to build up strong institutions owing to Washington’s passive and reluctant attitude towards Asian regionalism. If Washington refuses to adapt itself to the fast evolving Asian regionalism, it could leave place to the PRC or even ASEAN in a long run as China’s economy is fast developing and its political influence is rapidly rising and ASEAN is accelerating construction of its own communities.