US primacy has provided not only the political foundation of America’s many long-standing relationships in the region, but also the foundation of the regional order’s most fundamental norms and aspirations, in addition to the public goods needed for their pursuit. But the regional environment is now facing transformation in the face of both China’s ongoing challenge to the existing political order and the prospect of a US no longer willing to unilaterally guarantee regional security now, or perhaps in the future either. US allies and partners in Asia committed to a ‘rules-based’ liberal order, then, increasingly need to recalibrate their expectations of the US, but also to do more in asserting the authority of the order’s principles and rules in ways that continue to support US leadership but still recognize the current, and likely future, limits imposed by America’s status as a non-resident power in the region.
Primacy and Leadership in East Asia
Edited by Michael Heazle and Andrew O’Neil
Michael Heazle and Andrew O’Neil
A common conclusion among the authors in response to questions about the nature of US leadership and its sources of authority is that US authority stems ultimately from the legitimacy granted to US power and influence by other states in East Asia and the broader Asia-Pacific; an attribute of US leadership clearly demonstrated by the great concern any prospect of US withdrawal continues to create in the region. So while America’s economic and military power have been the material enablers of US authority in Asia and elsewhere, it has been the acknowledged legitimacy and appeal of US leadership that has made it enduring and thus more than only hegemonic.
Ian Hall and Michael Heazle
This chapter examines the notion of a ‘rules-based order’ in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the sources of its legitimacy and authority, and the type of leadership a distinctly ‘liberal’ order requires. It argues that a basic, liberal state-based international order was established after 1945, and that the more expansive application of liberal principles that has since been promoted by some Western states has received a very mixed reception in the region. The chapter outlines the basic structure and elements of the 1945 order and the principles inherent in liberal understandings of what that order ought to look like in the contemporary international system. It draws out some of the implications of these understandings of order for current tensions in the broader Indo-Asia-Pacific region.