Working Group Report on Concepts, Ideas and Empowering Guidelines for East Asia
 
Introduction
 
The NEAT Working Group on Concepts, Ideas and Empowering Guidelines, sponsored by NEAT Malaysia and co-sponsored by NEAT Japan, was held on 26 March 2005 in Kuala LumpurMalaysia.  All 13 NEAT countries were invited to the Working Group meeting and a total of 27 participants from 12 countries attended.  Tan Sri Dr Noordin Sopiee, NEAT Country Coordinator for Malaysia, moderated the three sessions.  (The Concept Paper for the Working Group, Agenda and List of Participants are attached as Annex 1, 2 and 3 respectively.)
 
Following adoption of the Agenda, the Moderator asked for permission to conduct the meeting informally and for participants, unless otherwise stated, to speak in their personal capacities so as to have free and full discussions.  This was unanimously approved.  It was further agreed that the report of the working group meeting would be on a non-attribution basis and identify issues where there is consensus and areas where there is no consensus.  The report is to be sent to all NEAT Country Coordinators by April 2005.
 
The following then are the areas where there was/was not consensus:
 
 
Empowering Guidelines for East Asia
 
Areas where there is consensus
  • East Asian regionalism must promote the welfare and well-being of the people in the region and, accordingly, the East Asian community should one of peace, prosperity and friendship.
  • East Asian regionalism should embrace the principle of regional self-determination and be based on consensual and non-hegemonic practices.
  • East Asian regionalism should also seek full productive engagement with all who can contribute on the basis of openness, equality and high comfort levels.
  • East Asian community building must not be confined to states alone and should embrace all elements of civil society. The sense of ownership must be broadened and the number of stakeholders increased.
  • The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation serves as a guide and glue for the creation of the East Asia community.
 
Areas where there is no consensus
  • There was no agreement as to whether East Asia should adopt three clear and distinct ‘pillars' of community building as ASEAN has done, i.e. economic, security and socio-cultural, or, if it should, whether there ought to be any particular order of sequencing.
 
 
Practical Modalities for the East Asian Summit
 
Areas where there is consensus
  • ASEAN and ASEAN Plus Three processes should be at the core of East Asian regionalism.
  • The East Asian Summit should be a forum for dialogue rather than an association.
  • ASEAN should chair East Asian Summits, including those held in non-ASEAN countries.
  • East Asian Summits should be held regularly and be back-to-back with the ASEAN Summit.
  • ASEAN Plus Three Summits should continue to be held for the time being and including years when an East Asian Summit is convened.
  • Countries seeking to participate as members in the East Asia Summit should be evaluated on the basis of the following membership criteria, namely, they should:
1. Apply to be a member;
2. Accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation;
3. Commit themselves to the building of an East Asian community by subscribing to an East Asia declaration, if and when one is formulated; and
4. Be accepted by Asean Plus Three members on the basis of consensus.
 
Countries seeking to participate as dialogue partners in an East Asia Summit should be evaluated on the basis of the following dialogue partner criteria, namely, they should:
 
1. Apply to attend or be invited to attend based on interest or need;
2. Not have any aggressive intent towards any of the ASEAN Plus Three countries; and
3. Be accepted by Asean Plus Three members on the basis of consensus.
 
The first East Asian Summit should be confined to the ASEAN Plus Three countries only and then decisions taken on if and when to widen or deepen participation.
 
Areas where there is no consensus
  • There was no consensus as to whether East Asian Summits should be held every two, three or five years.
  • There was no consensus as to whether there should be different categories of participation, such as that of ‘members' and ‘dialogue partners'.
  • There was no agreement as to whether and, if so, when, the East Asia Summit should replace the ASEAN Plus Three Summit.
  • There was no agreement on the rights and privileges of members versus dialogue partners, if such an option were to be decided on.
  • There was also no agreement as to the need for a secretariat.
 
 
Content for Draft Declaration
 
Areas where there is consensus
  • The value and importance of an East Asian Declaration by ASEAN Plus Three countries to express their collective political will was affirmed.
  • The Declaration should set out the vision, principles, areas of cooperation, structures, processes and modalities of the East Asian Summit in a way that make the differences with the ASEAN Plus Three Summit clear.
  • The values that provide the framework for the identity formation of the East Asian community should be included.
  • The recommendations of the East Asian Vision Group and the East Asian Study Group are useful for the East Asian Summit and other community building initiatives.
 
 
Conclusion
 
Based on the frank yet cordial discussions leading to major points of agreement being established, the Working Group felt that there was no need for a second meeting to be held in TokyoJapan.  Satisfied with the nature and content of the deliberations, the Working Group adjourned early with thanks expressed to NEAT Malaysia for being the host.

Network of East Asian Think-Tanks

The Network of East Asian Think-tanks

     
Officially recognized at the “10+3" summit meeting, Network of East Asian Think-tanks (NEAT) is a mechanism for research and academic exchange, and a platform for the second-track diplomacy in the regional cooperation among “10+3" countries in East Asia. It aims at integrating the research resources in East Asia, promoting the academic exchanges and providing intellectual support for East Asian cooperation. To be more specific, by establishing a network among East Asian think-tanks, governments and enterprises and promoting the interaction of these three circles, it intends to study the key issues related to East Asian cooperation, work out strategic ideas and concrete policy suggestions for the regional integration and submit research reports to the “10+3" summit meeting.
 
In 2002, East Asian Studies Group (EASG), the second-track in the mechanism of East Asian cooperation, suggested 17 short-term measures to be taken for closer cooperation among East Asian nations, among which was establishing “Network of East Asian Think-tanks" (NEAT) within the framework of “10+3" regional cooperation. The suggestion was adopted at the informal meeting of “10+3"leaders held in Phnom PenhCambodia in September 2002.
 
The activities of NEAT fall into the following categories: 1) Hold annual conferences of NEAT members to promote exchanges among East Asian think tanks and submit an annual work report to the informal meeting of “10+3" leaders on the basis of the research of the key issues in East Asian integration process; 2) Set up a website of NEAT, bridging the governments with the academic circles, promoting the academic exchanges among scholars about East Asia, and educating the masses in the region; 3) Hold irregular international seminars on East Asian cooperation so as to facilitate the theoretic research on the integration and community building of East Asia and help to shape the theoretic framework, strategies and specific policies conducive to the regional cooperation in East Asia. 4) Cooperate in the research of the key issues in regional cooperation and figure out the solutions.
 
The founding as well as the first annual conference of NEAT was held in Beijing from September 29 to 30, 2003. There were delegates from the think tanks of all the member states at the conference. The three topics discussed were “Towards East Asian Cooperation", Important Steps Leading to East Asian Cooperation" and “Key Areas in East Asia Cooperation". The conference report was not only published, but also distributed at the “10+3" leaders meeting in 2003.