|The sweeping arc of Asia—from the Indian Ocean to the Bering Straits and from Tashkent to Tasmania—stands out as the world’s most dynamic region. Unprecedented economic and political forces powerfully shift the region’s relationships large and small, from the rise of China and India to the glimmers of democratic change. New transnational challenges—from environmental disasters to outbreaks of infectious disease, to the impact of globalization, to terrorist networks—defy old notions of sovereignty. At the same time, traditional rivalries and emergent confrontations between regional powers raise the specter of past conflicts.
To engage and address this increasingly rich and diverse discussion about the emerging regional architecture of Asia, and to offer some practical judgments for future US policy, the Stanley Foundation, in collaboration with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, hosted a conference in November 2006 drawing on the expertise of scholars, journalists, and government officials from Australia, China, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States.
Reflective of the region itself, debate and discussion on Asian architecture is increasingly fluid. What is more, the future direction and success of these arrangements—and the implications for global and regional security and prosperity—remain unclear even as the elements of this dynamic regional architecture expand and become more complex. In Washington and in the region, concerns persist whether the architecture is evolving toward less-inclusive, bloc-based “talking shops” rather than toward a more open, inclusive, and problem-solving regionalism. Washington needs to strengthen its linkages across the region, reaffirm its commitment to regional norms and aims, and remain alert to opportunities to improve America’s legitimacy and leverage through enhanced engagement in Asia.