ASEAN after the Cold War: Capital, Crisis, Conflict

  • Lee Jones
Part of the Critical Studies of the Asia Pacific Series book series (CSAP)


Having feared for their very survival in the 1960s and 1970s, ASEAN’s capitalist regimes stabilised and strengthened remarkably during the following decade. Thanks in part to their interventions in their near-abroad, the anti-communist military, bureaucratic, political and business elites which dominated ASEAN states defeated the threat of revolution. The sub-region’s relative political stability and its suppression of labour unrest made it an attractive venue for foreign investment, which expanded rapidly following the de-regulation of global capital flows in the mid-1970s. This helped fuel the export-oriented, state-led development that ASEAN governments had prioritised to undercut the popular appeal of communism, generating rapid economic growth. By the 1990s, several ASEAN members had become second-tier ‘tiger’ economies. The region defied conventional wisdom by modernising economically while remaining politically undemocratic, which elites justified with reference to the so-called ‘Asian values’ of hierarchy, hard work and social harmony. In a sudden reversal, however, this impressive façade collapsed in the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which caused widespread social unrest and toppled governments. ASEAN was powerless to respond, and has emerged from the crisis enduringly weakened, its image tarnished and its relevance constantly questioned.


Foreign Policy Good Governance External Power Business Interest ASEAN State 
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Copyright information

© Lee Jones 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen Mary, University of LondonUK

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