“Chasing Pavements”: The East Asia Summit and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Discursive Regionalism as Disguised Multilateralism
E-Paper : 11
multilateralism, regionalism, regional integration, Asian community, East Asia Summit, Trans-Pacific Partnership
Revolving around the concept of “Community”, or “community” – the use of the capital “c” being seen as indicative of cultural homogeneity - debate on an Asian region has ostensibly pitted those who favour an entity limited to East Asia (China, Japan, South Korea and the ten countries of ASEAN) against those who propose a much wider entity embracing India, North (and, perhaps, South) America, as well as Australasia. Previously these two conceptualizations possessed their eponymous translation in the East Asian Economic Caucus (reincarnated as ASEAN +3) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum respectively. However with the creation in 2005 of the East Asian Summit (EAS) to include India, Australia and New Zealand and, above all, its 2011 enlargement to include the United States and Russia, the distinction between the two conceptualizations of an Asian region has become confused. In order to explain this development, this paper suggests that the language of “region” or “community” is a discursive smokescreen disguising changes in approaches to multilateralism. An examination of the EAS, contrasted with another recent regional project, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), suggests that the actors involved, both state and non-state, are seeking overwhelmingly to ensure the primacy of individual nationstates in intergovernmental multilateral relations.