Evan Feigenbaum Profile picture
Jan 20, 2018 13 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
1: I worry sometimes that too much of our narrative about modern Asia is overly Sinocentric -- Chinese advance, Chinese growth, Chinese initiative ... and then US/allied reaction. But this misses much of the story of Asia's last three decades.
2. For example, it has become fashionable to ascribe efforts to build a pan-Asian economic/institutional order to rising Chinese assertiveness or, more precisely, to Chinese ambition. And that is a simple, straightforward enough narrative. But it is just one part of the story.
3. Thus contemporary Asian regionalism for instance—the desire to forge at least some cohesion out of the region’s enormous diversity—has found expression not just in China but across Asia and over many decades.
4. The US can and should adapt and compete. But doing so will require, first, a clear understanding of the depths/origins of change in Asia. The US cannot succeed in either geopolitics or business unless it properly understands the sources of its competition in the first place.
5. China is a big/difficult part of that story. But "US vs. Chinese rules" misses much about Asia since 1997. And as I’ve argued before, pan-Asian rule-writing/ standard-setting without the US can be as big a long-term challenge to the US as attempted Chinese rule writing. #CPTPP
6: My 2015 essay in @ForeignAffairs, “The New Asian Order,” tried to explore some of these dynamics: foreignaffairs.com/articles/east-…
7: So did this 2009 (!) @CFR_org report I co-authored with @RManning4, “The United States in the New Asia”: cfr.org/report/united-…
8: And so did this 2011 essay in @TWQgw, “Why America No Longer Gets Asia”: csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/le…
9: This is not meant as a critique of recent policies per se. It is a plea, I guess, for a less Sinocentric, less reactive, and much more proactive US view of recent trends in Asia. By “Sinifying” everything, we are missing something big. We’re also conceding ground to Beijing.
10: We need to remember that not all trends buffeting the US position in Asia are Sinocentric. Meanwhile, dealing with China’s rise requires strategic coherence. And the best way to adapt to China’s new activism is to mount a stronger offense, not play perpetual defense.
11: And that also requires some hard thinking about Chinese revisionism—including what it is, and isn’t. This 2017 essay, also in @ForeignAffairs, tried to grapple with some of that: foreignaffairs.com/articles/china…
12: Anyway, just a couple of cranky cents on a cold weekend.
13: Because when the Chicago River looks like this, it's a good time to sit around thinking about Asian order ...

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More from @EvanFeigenbaum

Sep 13, 2018
1/4: This is correct and is too-often ignored in debates about the supposed "decline" of the United States in Asia. ASEAN alone has received more than $274 billion in US cumulative investment. But -- and, in my view, it is a very big "but" -- it also risks missing the point.
2/4: US economic involvement is growing in absolute terms but receding in relative terms. Trade with the US comprises a diminishing share of nearly every Asian country’s total trade. Yet the US has focused mainly on security rebalancing to the exclusion of economic rebalancing.
3/4: The issue is not 𝘣𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴. What's at stake are rules, norms, standards and strategic momentum. The US has withdrawn from TPP and rejects regional approaches even as efforts have been underway to organize some of those approaches on a pan-Asian basis excluding the US.
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