The potential of the East Asian community to deepen East Asian regionalism

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This study analyses the East Asian Community (EAC) initiative for its potential in promoting regionalism in East Asia. The main aim of the study is to examine the development of the EAC building process since the regional financial crisis of 1997, which led to a new wave of regionalism in East Asia. The study examines whether the EAC as a form of bandwagoning strategy can deepen East Asian regionalism through national interests and policies used by ASEAN and Japan, China and the United States in pushing for East Asian cooperation. The study particularly focuses upon the impediments to the process of EAC building and how competing forums, initiatives, conflicts and disputes between regional countries have distracted countries from developing an EAC. The significance of the study is to deepen understanding of the nature of East Asian regionalism and the fate of specific initiatives relative to overall regional and international relations. My research findings indicate that the EAC does not look like becoming an organisation that significantly deepens regional cooperation. East Asian regionalism is characterised by a plethora of regional initiatives. The EAC was proposed as a political organisation to for smaller and weaker countries to bandwagon with regional great powers, thereby contributing to peace and prosperity. In this thesis I argue, however, that there are many barriers in the way of building the EAC. The obstacles seem greater than the drivers for building the EAC, and lead to the conclusion that the fate of the EAC is unlikely to be more successful than other previous regional initiatives. Although the EAC initiative has been supported by both the stronger and weaker countries in the region, the support is on the surface only and is not substantial or deep enough to achieve all that is hoped for.
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