Multilateralism and East Asian transitions: the English School, diplomacy, and a networking regional order

Abstract

This article traces East Asia’s evolving multilateralisms and role in transitioning East Asia away from “US hub-and-spokes” bilateralism toward a more networked system of security arrangements. Drawing on the English School, it argues for revisiting multilateralism’s diplomatic foundations as a way to direct attention to (1) the practice’s region-specific content and (2) the ways that multilateralism has introduced system-transitioning changes that include system-level dynamics associated with membership, actor hood, and the types of security at stake. The result is a more complex security environment and normative context that calls for more multifaceted responses from all, including the United States and China whose current multilateral diplomacies both draw from and challenge the multilateral norms and practices that have been created. Theoretically, re-attention to multilateralism’s diplomatic foundations also offers the English School an opportunity to make more distinctive contributions to ongoing debates about East Asia’s networking processes and security arrangements.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    See, footnote 2 of Dian and Mejier’s introduction to this Special Issue.

  2. 2.

    For discussions on the constructivist versus English School debate, see Reus-Smit (2002), Finnemore (2001), and Adler (2005).

  3. 3.

    Goh (2013) offers the most systematic treatment of East Asia’s “layered” order.

  4. 4.

    The author appreciates a reviewer’s suggestion to underscore this point.

References

  1. Adler, E. 2005. Barry Buzan’s use of constructivism to reconstruct the English School: Not all the way down’. Millennium 34 (1): 171–182.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Alagappa, M. (ed.). 2003. Asian security order: Instrumental and normative features. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Arase, D. 2010. Non-traditional security in China-ASEAN cooperation: The institutionalization of regional security cooperation and the evolution of East Asian regionalism. Asian Survey 50 (4): 808–833.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Ba, A.D. 2009a. Regionalism’s multiple negotiations: ASEAN in East Asia. Cambridge Review of International Affairs 22 (3): 345–367.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Ba, A.D. 2009b. (Re) negotiating East and Southeast Asia: Region, regionalism, and the association of Southeast Asian Nations. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Blair, D.C., and J.T. Hanley Jr. 2001. From wheels to webs: Reconstructing Asia-pacific security arrangements. Washington Quarterly 24 (1): 5–17.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bloomberg. 2016. Obama’s ‘pivot’ to Asia staggers as trade Deal Stalls, China Rises (May 16, 2016).

  8. Bull, Hedley. 1977. The anarchical society: A study of order in world politics. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Buzan, B. 2004. From international society to world society? English School and the social structure of globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Caballero-Anthony, M. (ed.). 2005. Regional security in Southeast Asia: Beyond the ASEAN way. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Camroux, D. 2012. Regionalism in Asia as disguised multilateralism: A critical analysis of the East Asia summit and the Trans-Pacific partnership. The International Spectator 47 (1): 97–115.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Capie, D., and B. Taylor. 2010. The Shangri-La dialogue and the institutionalization of defence diplomacy in Asia. The Pacific Review 23 (3): 359–376.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Cha, V.D. (2003). The dilemma of regional security in East Asia: Multilateralism versus bilateralism. In Regional conflict management, ed. P.F. Diehl and J. Levgold, 104–122. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Chu, S. 2007. The APT process and East Asian security cooperation. In Reassessing security cooperation in the Asia Pacific, ed. A. Acharya and E. Goh, 155–176. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Cossa, R. 2009. Evolving US Views on Asia’s Future Institutional Architecture. In Asia’s new multilateralism: Cooperation, competition, and the search for community, ed. M.J. Green and B. Gill, 33–54. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Emmerson, D. (2010) ASEAN and American engagement in East Asia. East Asia Forum (25 April).

  17. Envall, H.D.P., and I. Hall. 2016. Asian strategic partnerships: New practices and regional security governance. Asian Politics and Policy 8 (1): 87–105.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Finnemore, M. 2001. Exporting the English School? Review of International Studies 27 (3): 509–513.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Foot, R. 1998. China in the ASEAN regional forum: Organizational processes and domestic modes of thought. Asian Survey 38 (5): 425–440.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Foot, R. 2014. Social boundaries in flux: Secondary regional organizations as a reflection of regional international society. In Contesting international society in East Asia, ed. B. Buzan and Y. Zhang, 188–206. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Gill, B., M.J. Green, K. Tsuji, and W. Watts. 2009. Strategic views on asian regionalism: Survey results and analysis. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Goh, E. 2011. Institutions and the great power bargain in East Asia: ASEAN’s limited ‘brokerage’ role. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific 11 (3): 373–401.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Goh, E. 2013. The struggle for order: Hegemony, hierarchy, and transition in post-Cold War East Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Goldstein, A., and E. Mansfield. 2012. The nexus of economics, security, and international relations in East Asia. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Grossman, D. 2019. Quad supports US goal to preserve rules-based order. The Strategist (7 February).

  26. Ha, H.T. 2019. ASEAN Outlook on the Into-Pacific: Old Wine in New Bottle? ISEAS Perspective 51 (June 25).

  27. Hall, I. 2006. Diplomacy, anti-diplomacy and international society. In The anarchical society in a globalized world, ed. R. Little and J. Williams, 141–161. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

    Google Scholar 

  28. He, K. 2015. Contested regional orders and institutional balancing in the Asia Pacific. International Politics 52 (2): 208–222.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Heginbotham, E., and R.J. Samuels. 1998. Mercantile realism and Japanese foreign policy. International Security 22 (4): 171–203.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Huisken, R. (ed.). 2009. The architecture of security in the Asia-Pacific. Canberra: Australian National University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Johnston, A.I. 2008. Social states: China in international institutions, 1980–2000. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Joint Declaration of the Heads of State/Government of ASEAN and the People’s Republic of China on Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity, 8 October 2003.

  33. Kang, D.C. 2004. Hierarchy, balancing, and empirical puzzles in Asian international relations. International Security 28 (3): 165–180.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Keohane, R.O. 1990. Multilateralism: An agenda for research. International journal 45 (4): 731–764.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Khong, Yuen-Foong. 2014. East Asia and strategic ‘deep rules’ of international/regional society. In Contesting international society in East Asia, ed. B. Buzan and Y. Zhang, 144–166. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Le Thu, H. 2018. Southeast Asian perceptions of the quadrilateral security dialogue. Canberra: Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Leifer, M. 1996. The truth about the balance of power. In The evolving pacific power structure, 47–51. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

  38. Madan, T. 2017. The rise, fall, and rebirth of the quad. War on the Rocks (November 16) https://warontherocks.com/2017/11/rise-fall-rebirth-quad/. Accessed: 13 Dec 2018.

  39. Maniam, Hari. 1991. Baker urges against replacing proven security arrangements that include U.S. AP (25 July).

  40. Milner, A. 2011. Analysing Asian regionalism: What is an ‘architectural perspective’? Australian Journal of International Affairs 65 (1): 109–126.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Mulgan, A.G. 2008. Breaking the mould: Japan’s subtle shift from exclusive bilateralism to modest minilateralism. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 30 (1): 52–72.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Narine, S. 2006. The English school and ASEAN. The Pacific Review 19 (2): 199–218.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Pempel, T.J. 2013. Economy-security Nexus in Northeast Asia. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Quayle, L. 2013. Southeast Asia and the english school of international relations. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Reus-Smit, C. 2002. Imagining society: Constructivism and the English School. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 4 (3): 487–509.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Rogin, J. 2018. Trump’s Indo-Pacific strategy: Where’s the beef? (opinion). The Washington Post (June 6).

  47. Ruggie, J.G. 1992. Multilateralism: The anatomy of an institution. International Organization 46 (3): 561–598.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Ruggie, J.G. 1994. Third try at world order? America and multilateralism after the Cold War. Political Science Quarterly 109 (4): 553–570.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Sharp, P. 2010. “Diplomacy” in international studies. International Studies Association. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Spandler, K. 2015. The political international society: Change in primary and secondary institutions. Review of International Studies 41 (3): 601–622.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Storey, I. 2012. China’s bilateral defence diplomacy in Southeast Asia. Asian Security 8 (3): 287–310.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Storey, I., and M. Cook. 2018. The trump administration and Southeast Asia: America’s Asia policy crystalizes. ISEAS Perspective (29 November).

  53. Terada, T. 2006. Forming an East Asian community: A site for Japan-China power struggles. Japanese Studies 26 (1): 5–17.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Tow, W.T. 2018. Minilateral security’s relevance to US strategy in the Indo-Pacific: challenges and prospects. The Pacific Review. https://doi.org/10.1080/09512748.2018.1465457.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Watson, A. 2005. Diplomacy: The dialogue between states. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Wesley, M. 2003. Mediating the global order: The past and future of Asia-Pacific regional organizations. In Asia Pacific security: Policy challenges, ed. D. Lovell, 154–165. Singapore: ISEAS 2003.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Wicaksana, I.G.W. 2016. International society: The social dimensions of Indonesia’s foreign policy. The Pacific Review 29 (5): 741–759.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Wiseman, G. 2011. Norms and diplomacy: The diplomatic underpinnings of multilateralism. In The new dynamics of multilateralism boulder, ed. J. Muldoon, 5–22. CO: Westview Press.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Yuzawa, T. 2005. Japan’s changing conception of the ASEAN Regional Forum: From an optimistic liberal to a pessimistic realist perspective. The Pacific Review 18 (4): 463–497.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The author gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Czech Science Foundation under the standard research Grant No. GA16-02288S.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alice D. Ba.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The author declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This article is part of the Special Issue: Networking Hegemony: Alliance Dynamics in East Asia.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ba, A.D. Multilateralism and East Asian transitions: the English School, diplomacy, and a networking regional order. Int Polit 57, 259–277 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-019-00202-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Security multilateralism
  • Diplomacy
  • English School
  • Security networks
  • Power transition
  • Asia