IIAS | IIAS Newsletter Online | No. 17 | General


Regionalism and Global Affairs in Post Cold War Era

by Donald Hellman

A Conference on 'Regionalism and Global Affairs in the Post-Cold War Era: The European Union, APEC, and New International Political Economy' was held in Brussels on March 26 and 27 under the joint sponsorship of the IIAS, the University of Washington APEC Study Center, and the National Bureau for Asian Research in Seattle, Washington. The conference focused on the economic crisis in East Asia, which was discussed both as a problem in economic management and as part of a historical pattern of economic development. This has led to a transformation of the region under a societally rooted process of economic and political change, differing from the democratic capitalist model in the Western world.

The participants involved were an array of senior scholars from East Asia, Europe, and the United States. In addition, a number of ambassadors from the APEC region and representatives from several major European companies attended and were active in the lively discussion of this timely topic. The opening session involved a heated debate concerning the current global political economy. Was it really an interdependent but nonconvergent world in which the Asian region stood apart? Or was the current crisis essentially a problem that would be solved by bringing Asia into line with the market-driven Western economic model? This set the tone for the next two days, during which a wide range of views on this subject was articulated. There were three major themes: (1) the lack of and need for clearer leadership to manage the global political economy - especially from the United States; (2) the need for new international institutions to replace those left over from the Cold War era to address more effectively contemporary political-economic realities - most notably the current economic crisis; and (3) the need to address the challenge of Asian power and the Asian developmental model from a historical and cultural perspective, not as a purely economic and short-term crisis.
A publication and a follow-up conference in Asia will be the result of this conference, which succeeded in broadening the boundaries of debate over a still unfolding upheaval that will cast a shadow over the international relations of East Asia for the first years of the new millennium.

Professor Donald Hellmann is the director of the APEC Study Center in Seattle, Washington.

   IIAS | IIAS Newsletter Online | No. 17 | General