China: Time is "not ripe" for an Asia-Pacific Community

Updated On: Apr 14, 2009

China has released a statement from the Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue, announcing that “the conditions aren’t ripe to put this mechanism (APC) on the agenda right away.”

Response to the APC has been mixed. An interim report from Woolcott in December 2008 has revealed a multitude of emotions from the various countries involved, and many alternative suggestions for restructuring and reconfiguring existing mechanisms, such as allowing the US and Russia to join the East Asian Summit.

There were some early positive reviews of the idea: a week after Rudd proposed the APC, Hadi Soesastro, director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta, wrote a response to Rudd’s proposal in a commentary piece for The Jakarta Post. In it, he wrote that the early criticism that Rudd’s proposal was “not well thought-out” was “misplaced” – the evolving nature of the proposal may be key to its success, as “the evolving regionalism in the Asia Pacific requires that all parties concerned should have an active part in the process, especially in the shaping of a new vision for the region.”

Soesastro agreed with the need to create a more “coherent and consolidated regional system” – but one which would consist of several institutions, or a restructuring of the existing organizations. He suggested a “revitalized APEC with a strong ASEAN Plus Three”, as well as “a transformed East Asia Summit…supported by the ASEAN Regional Forum at the working level.”

Peter Drysdale agrees with the notion that dialogue within the Asia Pacific region must start from “processes, not principles”, because “the latter course dooms the enterprise before it starts.” He argues that there must be a respect for the plurality of dynamics which find its interplay within Asia before any meaningful dialogue and agreement can take place.

However, despite early positive reviews, many analysts have argued against Rudd’s proposal. Barry Desker, head of the Singapore Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, believes that it was a proposal “dead in the water” because Rudd had not consulted with any Asian leader before putting it forward. In addition, no Asian leader has backed Rudd’s call for a new regional institution.

Rodolfo Severino, head of the ASEAN Studies Centre in Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, believes that Rudd’s call for a new Asian architecture, and the development of the APC will undermine the already-existing structures. He believes that ASEAN’s centrality to the region positions it as the best institution to be strengthened, rather than “establishing new and unnecessary ones.”

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai visiting researcher at the ASEAN Studies Centre in Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, also disagreed with Rudd’s proposal, remarking that ASEAN has no reason to embrace Rudd’s APC at its own expense.


4 Jun 2008 Address to the Asia Society AustralAsia Centre, Sydney: Its Time to build an Asia Pacific Communitywww.pm.gov.au/media/Speech/2008/speech_0286.cfm

11 Jun 2008 Hadi Soesastro Insight: Kevin Rudd's architecture for the Asia Pacific www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/06/11/insight-kevin-rudd039s-architectu...

June 12th, 2008 Andrew Elek Kevin Rudd’s vision for Asia Pacific institution-building http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2008/06/12/kevin-rudd%E2%80%99s-vision-for-...

19 Jun 2008 Peter Drysdale The Asia Pacific community idea http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2008/06/19/the-asia-pacific-community-idea/

3 Jul 2008 Barry Desker PM - Rudd's Asia-Pac community given thumbs down http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2008/s2294047.htm

10 Aug 2009 Brandan Taylor RUDD’S ASIA-PACIFIC COMMUNITY: Dead in the Water?http://rspas.anu.edu.au/gssd/sasi/uploadedFiles/Our_Research/Taylor_INPR...

9 Nov 2008 Jusuf Wanandi The ASEAN Charter and remodelling regional architecture www.eastasiaforum.org/2008/11/09/the-asean-charter-and-remodeling-region...

6 Jan 2009 PAVIN CHACHAVALPONGPUN Australia's APC meddling with Asean, by PAVIN CHACHAVALPONGPUN, Visiting Research Fellow at the Asean Studies Centre, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore http://www.bangkokpost.com/print/9203/australia-apc-meddling-with-asean

7 Jan 2009 Rodolfo C. Severino What's the point of a new Asia-Pacific architecture? http://www.iseas.edu.sg/asean/ascp1-09.pdf

8 Apr 2009 Lee Spears Conditions “Not Ripe” for Asia-Pacific Community, China Says http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601081&sid=ayq3w9mW2hZw&refer=a...


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