East Asian economic integration is on the rise. Free trade agreements have proliferated throughout the region, and moves toward broader forms of regional cooperation are afoot. These initiatives have caused alarm in some quarters, leading observers to warn that East Asia may become a closed, inward-looking bloc. In this timely and important book, Naoko Munakata challenges this pessimistic interpretation.
Drawing on two decades of experience as an economic official and trade negotiator, Munakata argues that East Asian integration has little to do with either defensiveness or anti-Western sentiment. Instead, she maintains, it reflects pragmatic calculations of economic interest, as well as a desire to build trust and a sense of community across the region. Transforming East Asia explores the impact these factors have had on developments since the mid-1980s—a tumultuous period that has witnessed important changes in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and the rise of China. The book also offers policy prescriptions for building on regionalism's achievements to date while identifying key uncertainties about the prospects for an East Asian community.
In the coming decades, the rise of China, its relationship with Japan, and the institutional arrangements that bind those countries to the United States and their neighbors in East and Southeast Asia will become critical factors in the global balance of power. Transforming East Asia is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand these far-reaching developments.
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