International Relations of Asia-Pacific: power and regional order

What is power and regional order?

How regional order has been shaped in East Asia/ Asia- Pacific by the rise and fall of different great power?

What will happen in the future? Is there a shift of power in the region?

These are some of the most relevant questions related to the International Relations in East Asia and yesterday we had the pleasure to have Dr. Robert Yates from University of Bristol to talk about all these exciting questions.

Power is not only measured by resources, either hard (military, economic, etc.) or soft power resources (language, etc.) but also by relational elements. Was power the same when China accessed the WTO in 2001 as when Bush pronounced his Axis of Evil speech? note really… China had been waiting since 1986 to access WTO (it was an agenda setting) and Bush´s intention with that speech was to shape normality (declare who is normal vs. who is deviant, Iran, Iraq, and North Korea). So we were talking about how power can be coercive or consensual, direct or diffuse.

Regional order is a formal or informal arrangement that sustains rule-governed interaction amongst geographically-clustered polities in their pursuit of individual and collective goals. But, who shapes and writes the rules?

We analyzed power and order in three epochs:

1) 16th- 19th century: Chinese World Order and East Asian tributary trade (China at the center)

2) 1840- 1970: Imperialism and dis-integration in East Asia (Japan´s and America´s Asia)

3) Since 1970: Reintegration and the re (rise) of China (Regionalism and the Chinese dream)

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “[W]hen China woke from its slumbers, it would astonish the world”. It appears that is precisely what is happening now. The world is totally amazed at the swift ascent of China across the board, not only economically but also culturally and even militarily.

But what does China want? Is the country of the marvellous porcelain satisfied with the status quo and its place on international institutions? Will China seek to revise regional order? How long can the US maintain its regional hegemony? How will actors in the region respond?

Some of these questions made us discuss on South China Sea Disputes and reflect on the role that US security alliances, China-centered economic integration and ASEAN-led regionalism as crucial factors that could shape the future scenario.

It was the best way to start the module. Thanks Rob for such an enlightening session!

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