ASEM and the 'Cinderella Complex' of EU - East Asia economic relations

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Abstract

Within the family of Triad power-regions (North America, Europe, East Asia), the Eurasian economic axis persists as the poor third relation in comparison to its trans-atlantic and transpacific counterparts. This study examines the nature of the "Cinderella complex" that besets EU-East Asia economic relations and the structural constraints within the Triadic political economy that impede its resolution. It more specifically considers what role can be played by the Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM) inter-regional framework in fortifying the Eurasian economic relationship. Moreover, the capacity of ASEM to develop its geo-strategic and multilateral utility is a core theme of this article. It is proposed that at the millennial eve, ASEM has missed various opportunities both to enhance its salience and to take bolder initiatives in the Eurasian co-management of the post-hegemonic world order. Such passivity was most clearly revealed in ASEM's handling of the 1997-98 East Asian financial crisis. Thus, as it currently stands, ASEM possesses a limited capacity to significantly redress the structural imbalances in the Triadic political economy: a far more substantive ASEM agenda is required to fulfil its potential geo-strategic and multilateral utility. This study notes that proposals carried in the first report of the recently established ASEM Vision Group would make a significant initial contribution towards this end.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-52
Number of pages28
JournalPacific Affairs
Volume74
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2001

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