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China, Japan and the quest for leadership in East
GIGA working papers, No. 67
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GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies
Suggested Citation: Nabers, Dirk (2008) : China, Japan and the quest for leadership in East Asia, GIGA working papers, No. 67
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GIGA Research Programme:
Violence, Power and Security ___________________________
China, Japan and the Quest for Leadership in East Asia Dirk Nabers N° 67 February 2008 www.giga-hamburg.de/workingpapers GIGA WP 67/2008 GIGA Working Papers Edited by the GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies / Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien.
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E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: ++49 (0)40 - 428 25 548 GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies / Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien Neuer Jungfernstieg 21 20354 Hamburg Germany E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.giga-hamburg.de GIGA WP 67/2008 China, Japan and the Quest for Leadership in East Asia Abstract The leadership of powerful states in processes of regional institutionalization is a significant, though still widely ignored topic in the field of International Relations (IR). This study asks about the theoretical conditions of effective leadership in international institution-building, using China’s and Japan’s roles in East Asian regionalism as an empirical test case. It addresses the question of what actually happens when states perform the role of leader. Specifically, it focuses on the process of negotiating leadership claims, and different hypotheses are presented as to the requirements of effective leadership in international affairs. The findings point to the fact that leadership is effective and sustainable when foreign elites acknowledge the leader’s vision of international order and internalize it as their own. Leadership roles are often disputed and are constituted of shared ideas about self, other, and the world, relying on the intersubjective internalization of ideas, norms, and identities.
Keywords: Leadership, China, Japan, ASEAN+3, East Asian Summit (EAS)
An initial version of this paper was presented at the workshop “Area Studies and Comparative Areas Studies: Methodological Challenges and the Road Ahead,” 12-13 April 2007, GIGA, Hamburg PD Dr. Dirk Nabers is Acting Chair in IR at the University of Stuttgart and a Senior Research Fellow at the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: http://staff.giga-hamburg.de/nabers.
Zusammenfassung China, Japan und der Wettbewerb um Führung in Ostasien Die Untersuchung der Führungsrolle „mächtiger“ Staaten innerhalb internationaler Institutionen im Prozess der regionalen Institutionenbildung ist ein wichtiges, aber bisher vernachlässigtes Thema der Internationalen Beziehungen (IB). Ausgehend von einer Analyse der Rollen Japans und Chinas im ostasiatischen Regionalismus fragt die Studie nach den theoretischen Bedingungen effizienter Führung. Im Mittelpunkt steht der Prozess des Aushandelns von Führungsansprüchen. Dazu werden verschiedene Hypothesen formuliert und untersucht. Wichtigstes Ergebnis der Untersuchung ist der Befund, dass Führungsrollen insbesondere dann effizient ausgestaltet werden können, wenn die politischen Eliten potenzieller Kooperationspartner die Ordnungsvorstellungen von Führungsmächten akzeptieren und in eigene politische Maßnahmen integrieren. Führungsrollen sind oft umstritten und werden durch intersubjektive Ideen, Normen und Identitäten, d.h. bestimmte Vorstellungen über das „Selbst“ und das „Andere“, konstituiert.
China, Japan and the Quest for Leadership in East Asia
Article Outline 1 Introduction 2 Theoretical Background: Concepts of Leadership 3 Sino-Japanese Antagonism and the Struggle for Regional Leadership 4 Conclusion
Leadership plays a crucial role in tackling internationally relevant problems such as terrorism, trade facilitation, climate change, humanitarian aid, and institutional cooperation in general. Strong leadership seems to be essential for guiding and directing a group of countries towards collective action. On the other hand, cooperation between international actors raises questions about how to share both costs and benefits, especially when some actors are economically and/or militarily more powerful than others. Even if membership in a regional or global institution is inclusive and voting rules are representative, some states may carry considerably more weight than others because their voice is considered crucial for the outcome of the political process. These states can be considered “leaders” in international affairs.
Though significant in any case of collective action, leadership in international institutionbuilding remains a topic more or less ignored in the literature to date (Underdal 1994, Sjostedt 1999; Tallberg 2006). Traditional accounts of International Relations theory (IR), such as various versions of rationalism, focus on structural and/or power-based accounts of leadership, while constructivism and poststructuralist approaches in IR have only recently started to approach concepts such as discursive hegemony in international fora (e.g., Nabers 2007).
6 Nabers: China, Japan and the Quest for Leadership in East Asia This study inquires as to the prerequisites of effective leadership in international institutionbuilding, using China’s and Japan’s roles in East Asian regionalism as an empirical test case.
The Korea Herald once posed the crucial question for the future direction of Asian regionalism:
“Which country is capable of taking the lead? It boils down to either China or Japan” (Korea Herald, 10 October 2002). It will be argued that while China has undertaken several initiatives to propel regional free trade agreements (FTA) and economic development of the Indochina region (Swaine/Tellis 2000: 136), Japan has promoted regionwide institutions such as ASEAN+3 and the East Asian Summit, playing the role of “Asia’s odd man out” (Beeson/Hidetaka 2006) quite productively. Sino-Japanese antagonism and aspirations to leadership on both sides have, in consequence, been a major source of structural change in the region, resulting in a dynamic interplay between bilateral FTA and multilateral institutions.
The structure of the paper will be as follows: First, I will address the problem from the perspective of traditional IR theory and outline common deficiencies. Second, the question of what actually happens when states perform the role of leader will be discussed. Different hypotheses will be presented as to the requirements of effective leadership in international affairs. In the empirical investigation that follows, I will focus on China’s and Japan’s abilities to lead and argue that China in particular — in spite of its growing material assets — has not met important requirements for successful leadership in multilateral institutional processes.
2 Theoretical Background: Concepts of Leadership
2.1 Materialist Versions of Leadership According to realism (Morgenthau 1967; Waltz 1979, 1959), power capabilities are the determining factor in states’ choices. For classical realists, international institutions are always a function of the power and interests of the leading state (Carr 1964: 170-171; Morgenthau 1967: 175). One strand of theorists in the neorealist vein developed hegemonic-stability theory as a way to link power distribution with the creation and stability of international institutions (e.g., Krasner 1985; Strange 1983), and to be able to take hold of the concept of leadership in international relations. According to this approach, international institutions are usually created or prevented by dominant powers during periods of hegemony. In contrast, however, other branches of neorealism maintain that relative gains concerns stop states from cooperating with one another. As your friends of today can be your enemies of tomorrow, and the benefits of cooperation can be translated into power capabilities, concerns about the distribution of gains obstruct the possibility of sustained cooperation (Grieco 1990; Mearsheimer 1994). All in all, the diverse subdivisions of neorealism seem to be contradictory and internally inconsistent with regard to the role of leadership in international politics.
Moreover, hegemony in international politics is a contested concept. It has been common for neorealists to use the term as a synonym for dominance or disproportionately preponderant Nabers: China, Japan and the Quest for Leadership in East Asia capabilities (Waltz 1979; Leffler 1992). It would be rational for a hegemon to use its preponderant power in the interest of the system as a whole, because its immense power only exists relative to the systemic context in which it is embedded. According to hegemonic-stability theory, a (regional or global) hegemon can contribute to securing the peace and stability of the international system and make available other public goods, for example, in the international economy (Gilpin 1981; Keohane 1989). What is surprising is that the hegemon is thought to supply public goods at a relatively high cost to itself because of free riding by others (Olson 1971; Oneal and Diehl 1994).
According to this view, the requirements for long-term hegemony are:
the willingness to acquire supremacy in terms of military power, and the readiness to use military force to solve international conflicts;
the provision of support for the institutionalization of a regional and/or global free trade system;
the provision of a stable and liquid reserve currency;
and the willingness to act as a lender of last resort in financial crises.
On the basis of these basic requirements, hegemons of course try to exercise power over other states. However, attempts at assessing the hegemon’s significance in the provision of public goods have brought up no support for hegemonic-stability theory (Keohane 1984;
Mansfield 1994; Russett and Oneal 2001; Spiezio 1990). Hegemony might be episodically effective in providing public goods, but in the long term it results in an international system that is inherently unstable, and — like monopolistic behavior in economic theory — highly vulnerable to opportunism.
In a similar vein, power-transition theory makes interesting claims, but so far suffers from a lack of empirical scrutiny, with only a few recent exceptions (Lemke 2002; Tammen et al.
2000; Rapkin 2003; Feng 2006; Tammen 2006). The theory revolves around three arguments (Organski 1968; Organski and Kugler 1980; Kugler and Lemke eds., 1996; Kugler and Lemke 2000; Tammen et al. 2000; Lemke 2002; Kugler, Tammen and Efird 2004): Firstly, the development of the internal wealth of nations has important consequences for international politics; secondly, the international system is characterized by hierarchy rather than anarchy;