East Asian Regionalism Conference at Hopkins-Nanjing Center

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For the first time in Hopkins-Nanjing Center history, the Center has organized a research conference focused on East Asian regionalism.

The conference, which will take place in room C101 on May 9-10, 2014, will bring together scholars from India, Vietnam, China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Australia, the US and the Asian Development Bank.

Originally proposed in 2012 by Professor David Arase (SAIS, MA ‘82), the conference will create new opportunities for collaboration and research between Chinese and international scholars. Dr. Arase, together with Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor Shi Bin, have worked hard this past year to put the conference together.

Topics in the conference will delve into a variety of political, economic and academic issues. According to the program, scholars will analyze “the current status of efforts to build a regional community; differing visions of community; major power relations and regional community; current peace and stability issues; trade, finance, development, and energy issues; and the incorporation of non-traditional security concerns including those of increasingly networked civil society organizations within the region.” Following the conference, the plan is to compile the best papers and publish them in an edited volume.

Dr. Cai Jiahe will chair the first session focused on “the idea of East Asian community,” and Professor Shi Yinhong, The following sessions will quickly delve into questions of security cooperation, outside powers and opportunities for economic cooperation.

On the second day, scholars such as Wei Ling, Professor at China Foreign Affairs University and director of the Asia-Pacific Research Center will discuss southeast Asian cooperation issues, northeast Asian cooperation and non-traditional security issues.

At the end of the conference there will be a roundtable discussion where scholars will be able to speak more casually about the differences in their scholarship. The conference, which will give HNC students an opportunity to witness the ways in which researchers work together, will also publish the best papers in an anthology.

According to Dr. Arase the conference “will show HNC students firsthand how professional academic exchange works. It will also remind them that the countries surrounding China are key actors in their own right, and that the multilateral regional context should not be overlooked when they think about Sino-US relations.”

He believes the event will also create an opportunity for Chinese and international scholars to build personal and professional relationships as they discuss the future of the region.

In fact, Dr. Arase suggested that existing international relations scholarship is characterized by a tunnel vision that focuses on the bilateral relationships between China and America, and each country’s respective allies.

In his words, “You might say that US and Chinese decision-makers suffer from ‘big power chauvinism’ in the sense that they tend to focus on each other and overlook or dismiss the rights and concerns of smaller actors when they think about Asia. But in fact, each country does matter, and the region won’t realize its potential for stability and growth unless the concerns of all stakeholders are respected. We need to foster a multilateral vision of Asia.”

In addition, Dr. Arase hopes the conference will “prove that a significant multinational academic conference on international relations can be co-organized by a Chinese and American university here in China. There have been few, if any, examples of this, Dr. Arase said. “It will set a precedent that could establish a valuable new formula of institutional partnership with Nanjing University and academic engagement for SAIS with not just China, but the broader Asian region using Nanjing as a strategic base.”

He recommends students make an effort to attend as many sessions as they can so they can see the difference in perspectives, training, and methodology of professors from all over East Asia.

As preparations for the East Asian Regionalism conference come to a close, students are becoming increasingly excited about the event. Since it is the first research conference held at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, a successful event will set the stage for holding future global conferences.

The event, which has taken over a year to plan, has received much support from the new Chinese co-director of the center, Dr. He Chengzhou. As Dr. Arase stated, the co-director seems excited and is encouraging these opportunities for academic collaboration with the surrounding global community.

Most importantly, the conference is changing the way students and visitors to the center interact by allowing students to witness the ways in which scholars work with each other, and pushing new East Asian Regionalism scholarship forward.

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