Asia Bloc? And What does it Mean For Taiwan?

The Wall Street Journal reports on Hatoyama’s idea of Asia bloc, based on EU concept.  I actually think the guy is a lunitics…or too idealistic. CertainlyI don’t think it is possible at all in the foreseeable future.  A few reasons:

  • Europe are made up of a lot of different nation, with relatively similar national strength.  In other words, no one or few countries will dominate the whole bloc.  The situation is quite different in East Asia, where China has the most population and landmass.  Even if the bloc is formed, it will just be a Chinese Hegemony, and I wonder if that is what the Japanese and Korean want.
  • European countries have similar political system (all are democratic, one form or another), but already they struggle for years and made countless compromises.  Can Japan, South Korea and China do that?
  • European countries have more respect toward each others.  In Asia, there are still a lot of hates between Japan, Korea and China.
  • North Korea.  Can you actually form a bloc with North Korea located right in the middle of it?  Certainly, in Europe, there is no such situation, where a big authoritarian regime support a smaller one.  North Korea won’t be in the bloc, but China will be.  And that very obviously complicate the situation.

If this lunatic’s vision comes true, another country that will be left out of the bloc, as usual, is Taiwan.  However, I think it might actually be a good thing.  By not being in any bloc what so ever, there are no priviledge, but there are no obligations neither.  This can actually be a big advantage, if different blocs are formed around Taiwan.  (The situation is certainly moving toward that way, if this lunatic’s vision comes true.  With East Asia bloc to the North and West, South East Asia bloc to the South, and the Pacific, North and South America blocs to the east, Taiwan would be in the center of them all.  It would be both a danger and opportunity.)

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3 comments so far

  1. Thomas on

    Problems like the ones you have cited are precisely what has kept ASEAN toothless for so long. So they have enhanced trading ties. That is fine. But why do you need a bloc to enhance trade?

    Hatoyama’s desire for a common currency is also laughable. The Chinese are expending so much effort to internationalize the RMB. Does Hatoyama actually think they are doing so only to give up their currency, therefore surrender economic currency control to a central regulator?

    I know nothing very little about Japanese politics, but when I hear such lunacy, I wonder whether if it isn’t all just for show.

  2. Iseya on

    You miss the point. At stake is not whether Hatoyama’s plan will realize, but that US is losing its influence in one of the staunchest allies in Asia, Japan. Obama administration is justifiably saying “No” to Hatoyama’s plan, because it ejects US from Asian unity. But the real problem is that Obama, it seems, has no idea how to negotiate a place in Japan’s new policy, when LDP, an erstwhile powerhouse, is weakening its power in Japanese politics. Obama would be satisfied with winning the Nobel Peace Prize not as only changing the tack in foreign policy but as a successful builder of America’s new role in the world.

  3. dixteel on

    Iseya,

    I am just evaluating whether Hatoyama’s plan will ever work. You have a good point though. Another important issue related to Japan is the US influence, although that is not what I am trying to discuss here.

    From my point of view, after WW2, Japan was never truly independent, in the sense that they are just following the US in terms of foreign policy. I personally would like to see Japan becoming more independent and take more responsibility in the decision they make.

    However, the implication of such development to Japan and to Taiwan is unknown to me. If Japan chooses not to become more independent and lean toward China, that would be very bad for Japan and for Taiwan IMO. If Japan chooses to “normalize” and become more independent, it would be good for Japan, but for Taiwan, I have no idea.

    I am not too sure about the US perspective. Personally if I am the US I won’t bother to retain so much influence on Japan. Making sure Japan remains a trust worthy ally is probably more important.


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