Panel 15 (Joe)

Toward New Regional Integration Models for East Asian Economic Institutional Community-Building

Panel organizer

UnHye Joe, PhD Student in Law (LL.M) (Friedrich Schiller University Jena)


UnHye Joe and Eugene Joe:
Collective Responsibility for Justice in 21st-Century toward Reconciliation in the Era of Economic Community-Building in East Asia


Panel abstract

If a regional community-building order was to emerge that went beyond the activities of regional cooperation, it would have to pass through the following three essential phases. First, sovereign states that have achieved constitutional independence would need to develop mutual trust (Armin von Bogdandy, Georg Sörensen and Christopher Dent). Second, these sovereign states would have to support accepting the common good and values upon which to form their community in the region (Stefan Kadelbach). Finally, the process would have to ultimately undergird a legal community that could be predicated upon the rule of law (Walter Hallstein).

With rapidly growing economic interdependencies and the occurrence of financial crises since the end of the 20th century, East Asian countries have become keenly aware of the necessity of establishing a regional institutional framework under their own managed transnational governance power. Therefore, when the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership was first adopted at the 2011 ASEAN Summit, there was a great expectation it would be the catalyst for the next step toward establishing a regional customs union, similar to the European Economic Community that was in place from 1957 to 1993.

However, looking at the recent side effects of the European integration process – such as the migrant crisis that began in 2015 and Russia’s gas supply discontinuation to Europe in 2022 – strong skepticism has arisen within East Asian politics about the adequacy of the European style in the East Asian system. Moreover, due to the East Asian collective anxiety over China’s sovereignty expansion, two US and Japan-centered economic partnerships were additionally signed to contain the China-led RCEP, launched in 2018: the Japan-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (2018) and the US-launched Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (2022).

Since East Asia was a collective victim of the age of imperialism, excluding Japan and Thailand, non-interference in national sovereignty remains its cardinal principle. Furthermore, the region still faces the urgent challenge of reconstructing constitutionally sustained independent states. Whereas European Union society has adopted the ‘regulated intervention’ and ‘cooperative reciprocity’ sovereignty game in transnational relations, East Asia’s incomplete modern statehood corners it into an arbitrarily interpreted ‘non-intervention’ and ‘reciprocity’ sovereignty game. The form of East Asian regional economic community-building will certainly develop differently from the existing models of economic integration developed by Béla Balassa. However, no matter how it forms an institutional legal community, the process should promote building mutual trust and finding common values between East Asian countries. This panel will discuss the fundamental reasons why East Asian integration process progresses in a different form from the European continent, and ways to establish trust and common interests in East Asia.

Paper submission

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