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An APEC Leaders Retreat, a key body for determining the future of Asian regionalism. APEC Leaders Retreat, Sydney, Australia, 2007 (White House photo by Eric Draper).

Why Asian Regionalism Matters

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The development of Asian regionalism has been slow, particularly in responding to regional conflicts and the development of a free-trade area. But that should not obscure key advances in regional cooperation.

In an article published in the Winter 1993-94 issue of International Security, Aaron Friedberg, a professor at Princeton University, contrasted Europe's "thick alphabet soup" of institutions with Asia's "thin gruel." Some two decades later, no one would now describe Asia's institutional landscape as a thin gruel. It, too, is an alphabet soup of sorts, with names like ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation), APT (ASEAN Plus Three), EAS (East Asian Summit), APc (Asia Pacific community, with a small "c") and EAC (East Asian Community) all crowding conversations about Asia's present and future regional architecture. But are these institutions mere talk-shops, or are they genuine forces for stability and security? ...

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