[Paleopsych] UPI: New Map Of Asia Lacks US

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New Map Of Asia Lacks US

       Former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad points at his anti-war
          badge after a press conference at his office in Putrajaya, 07
      December 2005. Australia's hard-won entry into the inaugural East
      Asia summit was soured 07 December after former Malaysian premier
    Mahathir Mohamad said Canberra would likely be bossy and dilute the
                              grouping's clout. Malaysia Out AFP photo.

    By Martin Walker
    Washington (UPI) Dec 08, 2005

    The United States will not take part in next week's East Asia
    summit, but, to paraphrase a former secretary of state's phrase
    about the Balkan wars, the Americans most certainly have a dog in
    this fight.

    There is a fight under way at the summit, albeit a polite and
    diplomatic tussle. The Japanese, with discreet but potent American
    backing, have already ensured that the original plan of the former
    Malaysian premier for a purely Asian summit was blocked. Australia
    and New Zealand will now be taking part in the forum, to the fury
    of the still-influential Mahathir Mohammed.

    "We are not going to have an East Asian summit. We are going to
    have an East Asia-Australasia summit," Mahathir told a specially
    convened news conference last week to complain that the presence of
    Australia and New Zealand subverted his dream of a genuinely Asian

    "Now Australia is basically European and it has made clear to the
    rest of the world it is the deputy sheriff to America and
    therefore, Australia's view would represent not the East but the
    views reflecting the stand of America," Mahathir added.

    There was also some reluctance, discreetly fostered by China, to
    admit India to what was intended to be an East Asian club, but
    India (like Russia, but not the United States) was prepared to sign
    the Association of South-East Asian Nations' Treaty of Amity and
    Cooperation in Southeast Asia, which ASEAN nations call "the
    admission ticket" to the summit.

    A report in China's People's Daily noted this week that Russia's
    inclusion in the club was "simply a matter of time," and Russian
    will hold a separate bilateral meeting with ASEAN immediately
    before the summit.

    But it remains significant that the United States, as the region's
    security guarantor for decades and as its biggest market, is not
    welcome. The summit is clearly emerging as an important building
    block in the new economic, security and political structure of Asia
    that is evolving, and for obvious reasons this structure is heavily
    influenced by China's explosive economic growth, the new reality to
    which the whole of Asia is learning to adapt.

    As China's People's Daily noted this week, to explain the problems
    of drafting a joint communique, the Kuala Lumpur Declaration, from
    the summit: "According to insiders, some countries including
    Thailand sided with China over the claim that 'this entity must
    take ASEAN + 3 (Japan, China, Republic of Korea) as its core' and
    demanded no mention of community in the draft.

    While others led by Japan hope to write into the draft 'to build a
    future East Asia Community' and include the names of the 16
    countries. By doing so, ASEAN diplomats believe, Japan is trying to
    drag countries outside this region such as Australia and India into
    the community to serve as a counterbalance to China.

    "To grab the upper hand at the meeting, analysts say, Japan would
    most probably dish out the 'human rights' issue and draw in the
    United States, New Zealand and Australia to build up U.S.,
    Japan-centered Western dominance," the People's Daily added. "At
    the same time, it will particularly highlight the differences in
    political and economic systems between developed countries such as
    Australia, New Zealand and the ROK and developing ones including
    China and Vietnam, in an attempt to crumble away cooperative forces
    and weaken Chinese influence in East Asia."

    The summit, to be held in Kula Lumpur, Malaysia, on Dec. 14, will
    include Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Japan, the Republic
    of Korea and the 10 members of ASEAN -- Singapore, Malaysia,
    Thailand, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
    and Brunei.

    The eventual goals of the summit are huge. Japan's Foreign Minister
    Taro Aso said this week in a speech in Tokyo that: "Japan believes
    we should bring into being the East Asia Free Trade Area and the
    East Asia Investment Area in order to move us even one step closer
    to regional economic integration."

    Eventually, he has in mind (as do many of the ASEAN countries)
    something similar to the process of integration through trade that
    created over the past 50 years the present European Union. It will
    take a long time, and endless negotiations, and Aso's speech also
    laid out the immediate agenda for economic integration.

    "In Asia, the fact is that there are multiple factors inhibiting
    investment, including the existence of direct restrictions on
    investment, insufficient domestic legal frameworks, difficulties in
    the implementation of laws, inadequacy of the credit system, and
    others, particularly the complete inadequacy of protections for
    intellectual property rights," Aso said.

    India, with backing from Australia, sees the summit paving the way
    for an eventual Asian free-trade zone, though it remains cool to
    any grander designs for security or political integration along EU
    lines. China, which has said little about the kind of community it
    wants to see, mainly wants to ensure that no Asian gathering takes
    place without its increasingly overwhelming presence.

    So what is emerging, in America's absence, looks to be three
    distinct camps of a potentially uncomfortable assembly. The
    Australians and Indians and Japanese, and some of the more
    Western-minded ASEAN members, want to focus on economic cooperation
    and trade, but within the overall framework of the World Trade
    Organization, plus useful collaboration in areas like common action
    against avian flu. This group also wants to retain the current role
    of the United States as the region's key security guarantor.

    Then there is China, which evidently assumes that its economic
    prowess will eventually ensure that the East Asian summit, the
    region's economy and its security system are all dominated by
    Beijing, and not necessarily in an aggressive way. Still, Beijing
    wants this process to develop on China's own terms, for example
    this week ruling out the usual trilateral meeting with Japan and
    South Korea because of its complaints that Japan is not
    sufficiently remorseful for its actions in World War II.

    And finally there are the original ASEAN members, uncomfortably
    aware that they are now part of something far bigger than all of
    them. They understandably dread the prospect of great power rivalry
    between China and India, or between China and the United States,
    and hope that trade links and diplomatic structures like the summit
    process will ensure that such rivalries do not get out of hand.

    Some local analysts think that because of these fundamental
    differences the East Asian summit process is unlikely to endure.
    One Malaysian scholar has called it "an empty shell unable to yield
    any substantial results," and Indonesia's Jakarta Post published a
    decidedly gloomy editorial this week.

    "What we will actually see is not what East Asian leaders have long
    dreamed of, that is an integrated regional framework of
    cooperation, but a community marked rather by suspicion, distrust,
    individualism and perhaps unwillingness to sacrifice a minimum of
    national autonomy for the sake of pursuing collective and
    collaborative action," the paper commented.

    If that gloomy forecast holds good, that would not displease the
    United States, instinctively suspicious of any international body
    designed to exclude it. But if this East Asia summit process,
    filled with reliable American friends, fails to prosper, something
    much less welcome to Washington, and perhaps more to the taste of
    America's critics like Malaysia's Mahathir, will almost certainly
    emerge to fill the vacuum.

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