The construction of an East Asian order and the limitations of the ASEAN model
An East Asian Summit will be held in Malaysia this December. Like other institutions in the region, the summit will be hosted by ASEAN. Only nations that have signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (or TAC), which sets out the basic principles of ASEAN, will receive an invitation to the summit from ASEAN. This unprecedented summit may become a historic starting point on the path towards the founding of an East Asian community. If so, the TAC may well come to represent the basic principles of the East Asian community. The commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict that is enshrined in the TAC could be expanded from Southeast Asia to East Asia. If a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in East Asia could be concluded, it would surely constitute a major contribution to peace and prosperity in East Asia. At the same time, however, it is likely that the bedrock principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries—as stipulated in the TAC—would also become a fundamental doctrine of an East Asian community. Even within ASEAN there are some who regard this principle as outdated, as it is used as a pretext for resisting pressure to democratize. If it retains the TAC as its basis, will an East Asian community be able to share the concept of democracy?