Tuesday 12 Oct 2021 | 01:38 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 12 Oct 2021 | 01:38 | SYDNEY

Asian architecture: The win-win solution


Malcolm Cook

26 November 2009 08:40

In an earlier post, Graeme Dobell argues that the Obama administration’s decision to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) strengthens the United States’ hand in the Asian architecture game. I fully agree and take it even further. The United States signing of the TAC, especially if it is ratified, could also provide the win-win solution to fusing Prime Minister Rudd’s idea for an Asia-Pacific community  and Prime Minister Hatoyama’s idea for an East Asian Community.

Two questions have bedevilled regional architecture since the formation of APEC — should the US be included and should new institutions be created to make up for the weaknesses of the existing one(s) or should the focus be on strengthening these.

The Rudd initiative hit rough water over the latter and Hatoyama’s over the first. Rudd’s initiative is clear on the central role the United States will play in the APc, while it is becoming clearer that the East Asian Summit is the chosen regional body for Hatoyama’s East Asian Community idea, one that still excludes the United States.

If the United States is invited to the East Asia Summit, this could solve the Rudd initiative’s institutional problem. The EAS would then be transformed into an already existing regional institution that includes the major powers in the region, including India. It would also force Hatoyama to either include the United States in the East Asian Community in a more comprehensive manner or ditch the Japanese-led East Asia Summit as its vehicle, something that would be hard for Tokyo to do.

The ASEAN foreign ministers can help deliver this win-win solution and maintain their claim to ASEAN centrality by inviting the United States to the East Asia Summit. Washington can help this by ratifying the TAC and Canberra by tying the Asia-Pacific community idea to the expansion of the EAS to include the United States. Where this leaves APEC when it meets next in Yokohama and then in 2011 in the United States is another question. 

Photo by Flickr user ajgelado, used under a Creative Commons license.