Book Review: He, Baogang. 2017. Contested Ideas of Regionalism in Asia

Date01 December 2017
Published date01 December 2017
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews
He, Baogang. 2017. Contested Ideas of Regionalism in Asia. New York:
Routledge, 196 pp. ISBN: 978-1-138-65167-8
Today, in Asia, ideas of regionalism are at a crossroads. With the new US admini-
stration, America’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ strategy and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are
no longer part of the map in comprising regionalism. Baogang He’s Contested
Ideas of Regionalism in Asia, although written before the inauguration of the
Trump administration, timely provides historical guidelines and the future of
the evolving ideas of Asian regionalism. Specifically, He accomplishes his analysis,
from a realist-constructivist perspective, by mapping out the various ideas of
regionalism across the Asian countries and demonstrating how these concepts
have interacted with one another to make up the ideas we have today.
He provides a compelling analysis of how the different ideas of regionalism can
be defined by the broad debate on Pan-Asianism versus Asia-Pacific regionalism.
The author highlights the history of Asian regionalism from a unique perspective.
Going back into history as early as the 1900s, demonstrated by the second through
fourth chapters, He uncovers the origins of the different regionalisms by focusing
on the ideas of key intellectual leaders across Asia. Unlike existing studies that
consider the development of regionalism in Asia from the post-war period to be
mostly market-driven rather than institution-driven (until the Asian Financial
Crisis of 1997), He fills in the puzzle that has inspired and extended today’s ideas
of regionalism by taking a historical-ideational approach to analysis. For example,
following the introductory chapter, the author provides a comprehensive survey of
the competing ideas that have emerged in India, Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam,
Myanmar and Thailand from the beginning of the twentieth century.
In the third chapter, He traces the development of Chinese leaders’ ideas about
regionalism, beginning with Sun Yat-sen’s idea of regionalism, which emerged
in the 1920s, to the more contemporary developments that have continued
through Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping. Defining these trajectories
of ideas as the Pan-Asian regionalism, He suggests that patterns in the Chinese
ideas of regionalism can be found in their emphasis on nationalism; China has
continued to concentrate on the role of the nation-state to combat imperialism
and utilize regionalism as an instrument for pragmatic goals rather than develop
a genuine sense of shared regional community. In the fourth chapter, He then
introduces the contrasting concept of Asia-Pacific regionalism, strongly promoted
Journal of Asian Security
and International Affairs
4(3) 353–362
2017 SAGE Publications India
Private Limited
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/2347797017729905

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