Circling the Square: The Imagining of an East Asian Community
This chapter captures how “The Future of East Asia” clarifies the historical contexts of “One Asia” and the role played by the region’s dominant powers over the centuries to create an Asian cultural, political, and economic identity. Authors Hayes and Moon untangle the realities of regional social and economic integration within this framework, including the power transition and rise of China. They trace how the authors of “The Future of East Asia” identify ways to overcome the many gridlocks that persist in the region. They suggest that following such pathways would facilitate the creation of a truly East Asian Community based on a common identity and thereby unite Asia to become capable of contributing to solutions of the most urgent global challenges facing humanity. This geostrategic shift occurs in the midst of globalization with attendant displacement of local communities, demolition of cultures, and the dissolution of borders by trade, information flow, migration, and travel—all drivers described and analyzed in depth in this book. And, amidst this transition, Hayes argues the threat of North Korea’s nuclear program urgently demands the creation of a regional security mechanism to constrain weapons deployment. In this Introduction, he sets the stage for an agenda to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the relationship between states through a variety of concerted measures, including the creation of a nuclear-free zone. Chung in Moon concludes that in this region war is not a credible policy option because any aggressor will incur such high costs as to be self-defeating. Instead, he asserts, growing economic interdependence, expanding social and cultural interactions, shared regional norms, and institutionalized networks of cooperation already serve as foundations for regional security and constructive peace-making that will lead to an authentic regional community.