In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and with the advent of a new Japanese government, the long-simmering concept of an East Asian Community (EAC) has come to a boil. Trilateral discussions among China, Japan, and South Korea--the "Plus Three"--have accelerated, including early steps toward formation of a trilateral free trade area. The Obama administration has responded with new interest in regionalism, including discussion of new trans-Pacific trade agreements and a bid to join the budding East Asia Summit process. In November 2010, the trans-Pacific APEC will convene in Japan, and the next annual meeting, in 2011, will take place in Hawaii.
This period could shape the future of regionalism in East Asia, but many questions have yet to be answered. Will former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's initiative to build a new regional order on the core of Japan-China-ROK ties bear fruit? How does this concept of an EAC compare to other visions of regional integration, from APEC to the ASEAN-plus process? Will the ASEAN member nations cede leadership of the drive for tighter integration to Northeast Asia? Will the gravitational power of China's booming economy overwhelm concerns about its political system, military nontransparency, and possible ambition for regional hegemony? What role will the United States seek to play in Asian regionalism, and what will Asia's response be?
On September 9 and 10, 2010, the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) at Stanford University convened the second Stanford Kyoto Trans-Asian Dialogue. This distinguished gathering discussed the latest research into the course of regionalism across several dimensions: regional vs. trans-Pacific trade and production networks; traditional and nontraditional security; the intersection of historical memories and national cultures in forging, or thwarting, a new regional identity; and possible futures for the regional order and how it might interact with other transnational institutions.
The goal of the Dialogue was to facilitate discussion, on an off-the-record basis, among scholars, policymakers, media, and other experts from across Asia and the United States, and to establish trans-Asian networks that focus on issues of common concern.
The first Stanford Kyoto Trans-Asian Dialogue was held September 10-11, 2009, in Kyoto, on the theme of "Energy, Environment, and Economic Growth in Asia."