ASEAN and the South China Sea; The Wider Architecture and its Trajectory; Alternative Regional Security Structures: New Alignments, Closer Alliances; China’s Efforts to Create an Alternative Regional Architecture; Conclusion

During the mid- to late 2000s hopes were high among analysts of Asia-Pacific security for stronger intergovernmental institutions in the region. The inaugural East Asia Summit (EAS) was held in Kuala Lumpur in December 2005 and was regarded by some observers at the time as ‘an historic and timely gathering’ that offered an opportunity to shape the region ‘in ways that will best maintain its economic dynamism, enhance regional security, and preserve peace and stability’. At the same time, proposals for new pieces of regional architecture, such as Australia’s ‘Asia-Pacific Community’ and Japan’s ‘East Asian Community’ concept, were being advanced by a growing number of governments in the region. Especially notable in this burgeoning of institutional activity was the increasing number of fora – such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM), first convened in 2010 – which brought together defence officials and military personnel in a region that had to that point lacked the requisite degree of political trust to engage in such interactions.

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