Regionalism and Great Power Management in the Asia-Pacific: Complementary or Competing Forces?

Asian Studies Review

Author/s (editor/s):

Benjamin Zala

Publication year:


Publication type:

Journal article

Find this publication at:
Taylor & Francis

Benjamin Zala, ‘Regionalism and Great Power Management in the Asia–Pacific: Complementary or Competing Forces’? Asian Studies Review, 28 November 2019, online: 1-18.

This article seeks to advance the recent turn in the literature on regionalism in the Asia–Pacific that considers the scope for an effective managerial role for the region’s great powers. Drawing on the work of the English School of International Relations on “great power management”, the article seeks to clarify the interaction between processes of regionalism and the special managerial rights and responsibilities of the great powers. It draws on both the lessons of historical instances of institutionalised great power management in the form of great power concerts and a theoretical reframing of the practice of great power management. The article argues in favour of a disaggregated approach that prioritises crisis management between the great powers over more expansive versions of great power management in the immediate term. Distinguishing between different types of great power management at both the global and regional levels and highlighting the different lessons that scholars have drawn from the history of great power concerts leads to three recommendations for aligning great power management with processes of regionalism. First, prioritising regular and purposely exclusive dialogue between the United States and China in the immediate term. Second, fostering ad-hoc regional power summits over the medium to long-term as the distribution of power in the region shifts from one of bipolarity to multipolarity. And third, throughout both phases, actively avoiding what is labelled “competitive minilateralism” that is likely to both compete with existing regional institutions and work against the order-building goals of great power management.

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