Monday 26 Sep 2022 | 04:09 | SYDNEY
Monday 26 Sep 2022 | 04:09 | SYDNEY

The new East Asia


Malcolm Cook

29 November 2010 08:20

As I come to the end of my term as the East Asia Program Director here, I am bothered by the increasingly powerful thought that the traditional way East Asia is divided into Northeast and Southeast Asia may be becoming less useful as China's power grows.

Rather, in strategic terms, the future of East Asia may be better seen as divided between those countries which have territorial disputes with China and its ally, the DPRK, and those which do not. The simultaneous tensions over territory involving China in the East China, South China and Yellow Seas reflect this division, as do the varying levels of concern over the future of US extended deterrence among its many regional beneficiaries.

Australia and New Zealand, geographically, are clearly in the second, less pressured, group along with Thailand. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines are not. I am not quite sure where to place Singapore.

For Asia as a whole, I think the modern rise or historical re-emergence of China and India is a unifying factor with strong continental dimensions. For East Asia, the rise of China is drawing new strategic dividing lines, lines that are in the water and lines that do not correspond with the traditional northeast/southeast division that so much of East Asian studies is based on.

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