Regional Cooperation and the Web of Joint Initiatives in Northeast Asia

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GR:EEN - GEM Doctoral Working Paper Series
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The study looks at the recent development of regional cooperation in Northeast Asia. There are several obstacles that hinder regional cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea, the three major states in Northeast Asia. Lee and Bae categorize the causes of conflict that lead to different types of conflict in Northeast Asia. They argue that the ontological question of keeping an identity as a nation-state brought about territorial disputes while externalities of domestic politics led to disputes over history.
The study questions whether the institutional cooperation in Northeast Asia progresses despite the impediments explained above. As the first step to understand the path of institutional development that could contribute explaining regional cooperation, the paper analyzes the current cooperation mechanisms and cooperation projects to see how different actors are involved and what are the interactions among them. It goes further to examine how an individual cooperation mechanism develops over time by looking at a case of China-Japan-Korea IT Standards Meeting.
A detailed analysis of current developments confirm both Northeast Asia’s rise; and that China, Japan and Korea in the region have started to work together on various policy areas. The analysis of current environmental cooperation institutions reveal that it has not reached a high level of institutionalization or a coordinated structure among various attempts. The cooperation institutions, however, continue to change and they have developed, not as a result of careful plan, but as a living entity affected by small contingencies. The significance of NEA does not end in what hitherto existing conditions, but the direction the region is heading to as observed in joint actions taken together at the global level through CJK IT Standards Meeting and the discussions on Free Trade Agreement. Contingencies arising at present could be an important signal as path dependence with self-reinforcement mechanisms suggests.