Alice Ekman

Since the Kuomintang returned to power in 2008, Beijing has adjusted its communication strategy towards Taiwan, while maintaining the same long-term goal of reunification. This strategy of rapprochement by seduction rather than by threat promotes the rapid growth of exchanges between the Chinese and Taiwanese populations at all levels: students, tourists, farmers, businessmen, academics, retired diplomats and military, politicians, etc. Especially, the multiplication of meetings between academics of both countries is creating new channels of communication over the Strait, allowing on the one hand to compensate for the lack of formal diplomacy between Beijing and Taipei, and on the other hand to compete with informal diplomatic links existing between Taiwan and several of its partners (US and Japan, mainly). These communication channels could ultimately reinforce Beijing’s strategy – and China keeps investing heavily in their development – but could also be used as a conduit to prevent and to manage crisis would tensions reappear in the Strait.

Rahaël Pouyé

Kosovo and East Timor have often been jointly considered for their common experience of new ‘international protectorate’. These two territories were ‘liberated’ in 1999 by multilateral ‘interventions’ and thereafter ruled by United Nations transitional administrations. This feature is at the core of nearly all comparative exercises about the two territories to this day. However, another less obvious set of resemblances calls for renewed attention: it was indicated by the post-liberation resilience of indigenous institutions that had emerged during the 20 to 25 years of resistance. From this initial observation, I spent months in the field between 2000 and 2003 and uncovered a wider array of similarities. Three main parallels appeared. In both, the clandestine resistance networks, described here as ‘crypto-states’ have 1) directed their strategic choices on the resort to violence according to perceived international opinion, 2) while remaining a hybrid association of anti-state kinship groups and ‘modern’ urban elites, 3) with the result of producing a dual discourse on nationhood: exclusive and militant on the one hand, inclusive and ‘liberal’ on the other. After empirically discovering what may well be a singular political object, a necessary step was to assess its relevance to social science research. This required testing its set of similar features against established political theory on state and nation building: First by assessing the very ‘stateness’ of these clandestine administrations, then by exploring their rich and often contradictory production on national identity. In conclusion, this preliminary exploration suggests that the parallel trajectories of Kosovo and East Timor during the past 25 years point to a new way of nation-state building in a context of external constraint, directed by the changing post-cold war norms on international intervention. I argue here that this type of ‘externalized’ state construction and nation building is perhaps ill-fitted for the post-conflict construction of stable institutions.

The idea that the colonial past keeps surfacing in contemporary political situations has been turned by some post(-)colonial theoreticians and militant writers into an irrefutable statement of fact. Yet this analytical stance is supported by little empirically grounded research. A host of creative new literature about modern age “colonial situations” indeed help us reach a better, more nuanced understanding of what colonial domination was all about. But they often fail to capture the vernacular, non-European historicity of the “colonial encounter”. In the case of Southeast Asia, local political societies were engaged in state-formation processes long before the arrival of the Europeans: In Insulindia and in Indochina, there actually existed local imperial societies, into which the European colonial order of things became embedded. Viewed from this perspective, the “colonial situation” was a moment in long-term Euro-Asiatic imperial histories that mixed together numerous and sometimes contradictory understandings of imperial power and prowess. Talking about imperial hegemonies hence might help us escape modernist analytical dead-ends.

With over 8 million Filipinos living overseas, it could be argued that people have become the country’s largest export commodity. With their remittances making up 13% of GDP, they are as well crucially important economic actors. Has the Philippine state been instrumental in this exodus and in harvesting its fruits? Addressing such a proposition requires further refinement of three basic concepts – state, diaspora and transnationalism – through the use of three structuring templates. As a preliminary, the dichotomy of state strength and weakness is grounded in an analysis of a particular sector, namely emigration. By drawing on the typologies of Robin Cohen, Filipino overseas communities are portrayed as possessing, to some extent, the characteristics of much more readily accepted diasporas. However, a sketch of the varied experience of a heterogeneous Filipino diaspora underlines the differences between permanent migrants, contract workers, sea-based workers and irregular migrants. The diverse lived experiences of these groups – and their relations with their “home” nation – call into question the salience of notions of “transnationalism”. This questioning is reinforced by an examination of the Filipino state’s role in creating a “self-serving” diaspora through a review of the three phases in Filipino emigration policy since 1974. The characteristics that come to the fore are rather forms of “long-distance nationalism” and “rooted cosmopolitanism”. Taking cognizance of the multiple identities and loyalties in the case of the Filipino diaspora, a process of “binary nationalisms” is posited as a more fruitful avenue for future research.

Chinese aid and investment in Cambodia have been soaring for the last ten years thus indicating the rising influence of the People’s Republic of China, especially in countries where the Chinese community is strong. Chinese aid, free of any democratic rhetoric, allows the governments benefiting from it to ignore the requirements generally imposed by lending institutions. As a matter of fact, Cambodia is highly dependent on public aid for development. An analysis in terms of historical contingencies reflects a conjunction of two processes of putting a grip on the economy, both in China and Cambodia. Chinese aid and investment thereby help to consolidate a political economy based on arbitrariness, increased inequalities and violence, as well as the overlapping of positions of power and accumulation. In this regard, the analysis must take into account foreign aid not only because it competes with Chinese aid, but also since the Paris Accords it has participated – indirectly – in reinforcing Prime Minister Hun Sen’s power.

Nicolas Revise

Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s Prime Minister, is a man of superlatives: the billionaire telecommunications tycoon is the only elected Thai head of government to have managed to get through an entire legislative term before being triumphantly reelected to a second mandate. His party, Thai Rak Thai (“Thais Love Thais”), rules with an overwhelming majority. Having rose to power in the wake of the 1997 Asian crisis and the promulgation of Thailand’s democratic Constitution the same year, Thaksin exemplifies the country’s recent history: he is heir to the authoritarian military regimes of the 1960-1970 and the product of a political and economic liberalization that brought businessmen transformed into professional politicians to power. But whether the “Thaksin system” – a blend of authoritarianism and liberalism – has put the brakes on twenty-five years of political democratization or if he embodies a “Thai way” to democracy, the Prime Minister cannot rule to please himself: he is faced with a dynamic, complex and organized civil society that has already proven in at least three different instances its striking talent for political mobilization.

Renaud Egreteau

The Burmese junta that came to power in 1962, and reaffirmed its domination by a second military coup d’état in September of 1988, has steadily increased its control over the nation’s institutions and over the running of the country (renamed Myanmar in 1989). In August of 2003, the decision taken by General Khin Nyunt, Prime Minister and head of military intelligence, to propose “a road map to democracy” suggested that a gradual “transition to democracy”, closely supervised by the military regime, was possible. But the ousting of Khin Nuyunt in October 2004 spelled the return of the regime’s hardliners and of the last of the army’s nationalist chiefs, adamantly opposed to any negotiations with the democratic civilian opposition led by Aung San Suu, held under house arrest since May 2003. Thus the regime, strengthened by a favorable strategic environment, has a good chance of remaining in power by setting its own rules for “democratic” procedures, its aim being to keep the country stable rather pursuing a process of liberalization. Such a policy will inevitably be detrimental to the interests of the opposition and the ethnic minorities.

Diana Hochraich

Since their economic development got under way, the ASEAN countries – which essentially manufacture labour-intensive products – have been marked by strong regional integration brought about by the segmentation of the production process engaged in by Japanese companies. In these countries, successive relocations resulted in de facto economic integration at a time when various political groupings intent on blocking the development of communism were also emerging. Since joining the WTO, China – the world’s workshop – has become the hub for trade with the developed countries. In the face of such competition, the ASEAN countries will have to show their capacity to maintain their position in the value chain represented by the production of all of the Asian countries. While a number of econometric studies seem to indicate that the ASEAN countries will succeed in this undertaking thanks to the specific nature of their production apparatus, it is important neither to underestimate China’s ability to learn quickly and its determination to move further up the production chain nor to overlook the total absence of industrial policy on the part of governments in these countries which follow the advice of international organisations. It would seem that the ASEAN countries, faced solely with market forces, cannot hope to enhance their limited ability to move up the production chain.

Matthieu Salomon

Since the 1980s – and, more symbolically, since the 6th Communist party Congress – Vietnam has been engaged in reform, which is referred to as “dôi moi”, i.e. renewal. While their aim is, first and foremost, to change the rules governing economic activity, these reforms have, since the 1990s, also been associated with political, institutional and legal change. Influenced, on the one hand, by endogenous constraints arising out of the necessary adaptation of the politico-legal environment and of the evolution of the power-legitimation processes and, on the other hand, by exogenous constraints born of the desire for integration into the international community and economy, the discourse of the Vietnamese authorities and the country’s fundamental political texts have both been modified. It seems undeniable that, despite its weightiness and areas of permanence, the Vietnamese politico-legal system is, de facto, slowly evolving and becoming “normalised”. The intention here is not to suggest that Vietnam is undergoing a “democratic transition” bringing it closer to a western model of reference. The aim of the regime may be defined thus: “to consolidate the single-party system while satisfying the demands for modernisation”. By means of an analysis of the system of people’s assemblies elected by the population and of the legal – i.e. juridical and judicial – system, this study attempts to provide an insight into the regime’s capacity for politico-legal innovation and, notably, into its capacity to structure new arenas for debate. It examines the complex evolutions which have affected the rules and players of this too-often-neglected aspect of a changing Vietnam.

Jae-Seung Lee

East Asian economic cooperation has been actively pursued during the past few years, especially after the Asian financial crisis. A number of bilateral and multilateral Free Trade Area (FTA) agreements were concluded or are being negotiated. The recently published East Asia Vision Group Report provides a more concrete roadmap for an East Asian economic community. The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) became a reality on January 1, 2002, following a 10-years tariff reduction schedule. AFTA aims not only at trade facilitation but at inducing more investment. An ASEAN+3 (i.e. Japan, China and South Korea) FTA was also suggested to build an East Asian Free Trade Area (EAFTA). Japan signed an FTA with Singapore of ASEAN, while China and ASEAN agreed to create FTA within 10 years. On the financial side, the Chiang Mai Initiative created a regional liquidity fund by expanding the existing ASEAN Swap Arrangement to include all ASEAN members and augmented it by a network of bilateral swap arrangements among the ASEAN countries, China, Japan and South Korea. East Asian countries have also established a surveillance mechanism to monitor their economic performance. However, there are many obstacles in further enhancing regional economic cooperation. Structural problems involve political, economic, and cultural heterogeneities among East Asian countries. Low legalization and effectiveness of overlapping regional institutions render deeper regional cooperation difficult. Domestic instability of the ASEAN countries may hamper rapid regional cooperation. Regional rivalry between Japan and China should be an important object of observation. East Asian economic cooperation will be accelerated in the near future. Since the announcement of the ASEAN-China FTA agreement, Japan has attentively sought alliances to vie with growing China and to maintain her influence in the region. The next few years will see the emergence of a number of new bilateral and multilateral relations, both in trade and finance, in East Asia.

In a period of increasing complexity the nation-state as the basic unit of international relations analysis is increasingly under challenge. The pressures of globalisation and the seemingly related phenomenon of regionalisation ostensibly call into question the very idea of national sovereignty and thus the role of national political actors. Yet the nation-state remains, national political actors- playing above all to a national audience - continuing to be preoccupied with the articulation and defense of so-called national interests and, as an often unstated corollary, a national identity. In this paper the author analyses the experiences of a multicultural and multiethnic Southeast Asian nation-state, Malaysia, in an attempt to explain the linkages between the global, regional and national in the area of foreign relations. In doing so he underlines the fundamental importance of the imperatives of nation-building in defining and, above all, in articulating foreign policy. He concentrates on Malaysian participation in four groupings: ASEAN, the Organisation of Islamic Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth. He then turns to the "Look East" policy formulated by Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir, and its organisational expression in his proposal for an East Asian Economic Caucus. In doing so the author draws attention to the imperatives arising from Malaysian society and the double role of a Malaysian Prime Minister: defender of the interests of the politically dominant ethnic group, the Malays, and leader of a multiethnic coalition. He suggests that regionalism represents not merely a compromise between the global and the national but, expressed in identity terms, a means of reinventing the nation-state itself

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