The first year researches of this project produced following conclusions. In 1997 East Asian Economic crisis, ASEAN regional cooperation transformed into ASEAN+3 and East Asian Community debate including Northeast Asia. At the same time, ASEAN expande ...
The first year researches of this project produced following conclusions. In 1997 East Asian Economic crisis, ASEAN regional cooperation transformed into ASEAN+3 and East Asian Community debate including Northeast Asia. At the same time, ASEAN expanded to ten members. By this, Southeast Asian countries attempted to build an ASEAN community. Therefore, East Asian regionalism was an expansion-oriented transformation with two tiers for Southeast Asia. Such origin of East Asian regionalism coming from Southeast Asia can be found in Mahathir’s regionalism in early 1990s, facing domestic economic difficulty and regional economic challenges. In economic terms, regionalism, mediated by ASEAN, grows through regional FTAs. This Southeast Asian FTA also provides a turning point in the debates on ASEAN+3 cooperation and the building of East Asian community.
Despite all this, Korea is biased towards Northeast Asia, called Northeast Asia centrism which is static and inward-oriented. This perspective limits regional cooperation an. On the other hand, small powers in the region can manipulate, coordinate and acquire the support of the big powers, although they are seemingly weak. They can not be the main player, but should not be neglected. Indonesia’s role in ASEAN and East Asian regionalism proves it. Korea’s role in East Asian regionalism is utilizing Soft Power i.e. proposing future vision of regional cooperation with ideas, overcoming the limitation of middle power. East Asian regionalism urgently needs an input of a new direction and vision. In this critical juncture, if Korea can do the role, then it is a good opportunity for Korea to emerge as a leading power in the East Asian regional cooperation and community building.
The results of the second year of this project touch upon more practical issues. As the conclusion of the first year shows, ASEAN is the core and leverage in East Asian community building. Thus, the success of East Asian community depends on the progress of ASEAN community building. Facing the increasing needs of regionalism in East Asia, Northeast Asia can provide what the region requires. However, the needs can only be met by the capacity of the Northeast Asia which is crucially decided by the catalyst role of the Southeast Asia. Therefore, the building of ASEAN community is important for East Asian integration. On the other hand, the roles and status of Japan and China is an important variable in the building of East Asian community. It is not clear yet on what Japan and China have in their mind on East Asian community. What is more important is the competition over leadership in the organizations between China and Japan. Other countries in the region have a task to control this competition between the super powers.
In more concrete issues, the involvement of civil society in the building of East Asian community is required for the realization of the community. The involvement and criticism of the civil society does not hamper, but promote civic identity of East Asian people, contributing to the East Asian community building. The issue of economic gap in the region is also a difficulty task to tackle. For the solution of economic gap, more affluent Northeast Asian countries should not see their neighbors as marginalized recipient of support or aid, but have to treat them as genuine partners of regional cooperation. The issue of democratization and political liberty in the region also can hinder the progress of the region. To promote democracy in the region, the regional cooperation body should adopt mechanisms to enforce common decisions and regulations as long as the institutional regulation does not undermine the cooperation. Lastly, migrant labor in the region is an important nexus and task in the region for building of a community. The criticism of those people is related to the aspiration of a community with human face in positive sense.