Back to Asia

by Émilie Frenkiel & Bernard Thomann , 20 December 2011

This dossier examines the recently reopened debate on regional integration in Asia. What are the obstacles to the construction of an Asian Union? How is the issue tackled in Japan, China or Australia?

The end of the Cold War and China’s economic rise have considerably disrupted the economic and political environment of the Asia-Pacific region. China superseding the United States as Japan’s first commercial partner since 2009 is a spectacular demonstration of this dramatic change. And the 1997-1998 financial crisis had reinforced the regional cooperation process.

This evolution enhances countries like Japan or Australia to call their former exclusive relationship with the United States into question and turn to Asia again. Nonetheless, the issue of regional integration is still under debate. Japan and Australia consider building a bloc composed of Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand on top of ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) members. But what role should the United States have in this gathering? As China is becoming a world power and its diplomacy is more and more active, the trickiest question is to define the leadership of such an alliance.

Going “back to Asia” is no mere diplomatic routine; the process relies on the state of public opinions as well. Can the revival of nationalism and of deeply diverging visions of history hinder this nascent regional integration?

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by Émilie Frenkiel & Bernard Thomann, 20 December 2011

To quote this article :

Émilie Frenkiel & Bernard Thomann, « Back to Asia », Books and Ideas , 20 December 2011. ISSN : 2105-3030. URL :

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