Document Type

Honors Project


In an increasingly interconnected global order, governments are experiencing growing pressures to engage in cooperative and integrative processes. Indeed, regionalism has become a primary objective for all regions. East Asia is no exception. Using the "European Union" as a model, scholars generally regard East Asian regionalism as a "failure." With an emphasis on 'process' over 'progress' East Asian regionalist institutions lack the institutional formality and accountability mechanisms valued by Western standards on regionalism. I do not dispute these claims about East Asian regionalism so much as to propose a different interpretation allowed by applying a different theoretical lens. I subscribe to a relationalist framework that emphasizes relations vis-a-vis networks and identity, instead of a substantialist framework (the study of physical institutional entities). This allows me to analyze the ways in which relational processes in East Asia are changing the very identities and objectives of member nations. I analyze foreign policy speeches and documents released by the People's Republic of China during the span of 3 essential time periods: the Mao Zedong era, the era of reform led by Deng Xiaoping, and the current administration of President Hu Jintao. In these documents I examine particular shifts in China's guiding foreign policy ideology in order to observe a growing Chinese 'regional identity'. Through this I defend the idea that there is a dynamic and differentiated 'East Asian' Model' of regionalism.



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