Comments on Gary Hawke “The Asia Pacific Community: objectives, not institutions”, 15/06/2009, http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2009/06/15/the-asia-pacific-community-objectives-not-institutions/
In light of Gary Hawke’s arguments in this article, I would like to make some comments. First, Hawke is correct in saying that some sort of Asia Pacific community has been developing and forming. Hawke mentioned a few and I would also add PECC to that long process. All those reflect the real needs and desire of the region, loosely defined. There is no question about that.
Second, Hawke is also correct that the focus of most of those organisations have been on economics as opposed to politics and security. Partly they have been a pragmatic approach to the diverse situations in the region, as Hawke pointed out.
Thirdly, I agree with Hawke completely on the following, to quote from the above:
“It has been convenient for Asia to try to tie the US into an ‘Asia Pacific’ vision, but the US will insist on a global perspective. The vision of ‘open regionalism’ can be a contribution to world affairs, but Asia Pacific integration has to be compatible with Asian integration just as it will proceed alongside regional arrangements elsewhere.”
What I would like to add is that it is very likely that there will eventually an Asian integration and some organisation or community to represent Asia. An Asia Pacific community is a trans-regional one.
Fourthly, while I agree with most of Hawke’s arguments, I do see the value and need for a regional and trans-regional organisations or communities to explicitly have a broad focus than economics. I think the concept of open regionalism with an enriched content will be able to serve that purpose.
Open regionalism should include:
open trade with the region and beyond
open capital flows and investment
broadly and in the long term, few restrictions on labour movement
common and non-discriminative security and open peace
collective governance and multilateral approach to regional affairs
aspirational community goals but respect diversity and autonomy.
I think with an open mind and a focus on long term prosperity and peace and security, such an Asian community and Asia Pacific community will see the day of light.