Evolving Dynamics in the Asia-Pacific
Title: Evolving Dynamics in the Asia-Pacific
Editor(s): CASARINI, Nicola
Citation: Special issue of The International Spectator, 2009, 44, 2
ISSN: 1751-9721 (electronic); 0393-2729 (paper)
The emergence of the region is a modern phenomenon and still in the process of evolution. The economic growth which began with Japan’s postwar economic miracle and then spread to the Asian Tigers of South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong in the 1980s, and finally to Southeast Asia and China in the 1990s has probably contributed the most to giving these countries a sense of regional identity. Today there is growing interdependence among the region’s economies and plans are underway to establish an East Asian trade zone modelled on the European Union. However, the region still includes some of the world’s most serious flashpoints, particularly between China, Taiwan, Japan and the divided Korean peninsula, despite their high degree of economic integration. The region also lacks both shared political institutions and a multilateral security architecture. This situation leaves the United States as the guarantor of order, having established its influence through a series of Cold War bilateral alliances. Under the protective US umbrella, the Asia-Pacific has emerged as the epicentre of global economic growth. As the focus shifts to this dynamic and complex region, The International Spectator is devoting this special issue to examining some of the region’s current trends. Two main themes run through the issue. The first is US-China relations and the question of China’s growing military expenditure. China’s rise has provided the neighbouring countries with great economic opportunities, but also with ominous strategic challenges as Beijing’s defence modernisation alters the security perceptions in the region and leads the US and its Asian allies, as well as Russia and India, to reassess their threat perceptions and defence strategies to varying degrees. This leads to the second theme of the issue: the other key players in the region. Attention is centred on the foreign and security policy of those countries in which recent elections have brought new leaders to power (Kevin Rudd in Australia, Lee Myong-bak in South Korea, Ma Ying-jeou in Taiwan, Dmitry Medvedev in Russia), and the strategic thinking of the new leaderships toward the region’s changing power balance.
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