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Australian ideas of regionalism
chapterposted on 01.01.2016, 00:00 authored by Baogang HeBaogang He
This chapter investigates the idea of Asia– Pacific regionalism, a rival to the idea of pan- Asianism. ‘Asia– Pacific’ and ‘East Asia’ are the two core terms around which different regional identities are constructed (He 2004). Conceptualised as ‘Asia– Pacific regionalism’ and ‘pan- Asianism’, they offer different ideas of regional order and vary in scope, boundaries and directions (Wesley 2009). In contrast to the geographic idea of the Asia– Pacific, the idea of pan- Asianism is supported by Asian- affinitive cultures with Asian religions and cultures underlining their perceptions of an Asian region. In dealing with the challenge of pan- Asianism, Australia has consistently promoted a version of regionalism which encompasses the Pacific Oceans or the Indo– Pacific Oceans. In other words, Australian engagement with Asia is through the Pacific and/ or Indian Oceans. This approach creates a regional space in which Australia has a comfortable position within the regional imagination. However, this vision of regionalism has the potential to undermine the exclusive nature of Asianism and dilute the identity of Asianism. While the idea of Asia- Pacific regionalism has the advantage of constructing a broader regional identity and consciousness, it does not address the tough question of whether Australia is a part of Asia. On this, Australia is in a culturally awkward position.