Wednesday, March 03, 2010
ASEAN / EAST ASIAN COMMUNITY: Indonesia Rising? (1)
Truth be told, have been dreaming for the past two weeks, just that I had not mustered the courage to write about it. There is never a right time to write something concrete, so let me begin in this first part here.
Last week when we looked at a Latin American and Caribbean Community, it seemed clear to me that the world is clearly, clearly moving towards regional lines. We know already of the oft-talked European Union--held as the epitome of regionalism--both economic and otherwise. The AU is also emerging as a pioneer in its own right in more ways than we can imagine. Already, if one recalls, the AU had the blueprint of the African Economic Community that has been in operation since 1994.
Now when we turn to the East, we see that there are a slew of permutations arising: the ASEAN Economic Community; the East Asian Community (promulgated by Japan); and the Asia-Pacific Community (equally promoted by Australia's Rudd).
As far as I know, there does not exist in Asia a kind of Africa Economic Community-like blueprint that would serve as the basis for most of the regional groupings as we see in the eight-UNECA mandated groupings we know of (ECOWAS/SADC/AMU/COMESA/ECCAS/EAC/CENSAD/IGAD). Plus the fact that even the UN regional commission (like UNESCAP) in that region does not seem to play a role as active in regional integration as UNECA does.
Clearly, there remain challenges in the promotion of regional integration in East Asia for the competition is hotting up, what with Japan and Australia seeing economic communities as the basis for the foreign policies. (These are some of the issues I hope to pick up in future posts).
All that aside, as there is NIGERIA in ECOWAS, SOUTH AFRICA in SADC, when we turn to ASEAN, we see...what, exactly? I can tell you on "authority" that INDONESIA could be the answer to ASEAN and that region.
In my Masters dissertation in 2003, where I compared ECOWAS and ASEAN, I queried whether ASEAN could stage a comeback with a DE JURE hegemon, which I argued was Indonesia.
The readings I have been doing for the past couple of weeks seem to suggest a more assertive Indonesia not just in ASEAN, but also in the East Asian Community that Japan is so keen to run with.
Elaborations of the ideas I have touched on right now will be some of which I will touch on in later posts. Watch this space, and prepare for a hopefully more-formidable hegemon that is ready to have a greater say in the region!