Flags of Myanmar and Australia (ANU)

Asia-Pacific: Defining a Region

When I was working on my undergraduate thesis, one of the key concepts that I attempted to define was “Asia-Pacific.” Indeed, this is more than just a name of a region. There are different ways to define this region, and indeed, there are different names used in reference to this very same region. On this post, I will mention some of the definitions that I manage to gather, just to give a comparison on how defining one region may be very different (a form of construction, maybe?).

First, from the United States Department of State, or as the department calls it, “East Asia and the Pacific”:

“The Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs handles international affairs with these countries and geographic entities: Australia, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, China (including Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macau Special Administrative Region),  Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Laos, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, New Zealand, North Korea, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.”

East Asian and Pacific Affairs (US Department of State)

Another definition is given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, that calls this region simply as “Asia”:

    • Afghanistan
    • Bangladesh
    • Brunei
    • Cambodia
    • DPRK(Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)
    • Timor-Leste
    • India
    • Indonesia
    • Japan
    • Laos
    • Malaysia
    • Maldives
    • Mongolia
    • Myanmar
    • Nepal
    • Pakistan
    • Philippines
    • ROK(Republic of Korea)
    • Singapore
    • Sri Lanka
    • Thailand
    • Vietnam

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan defines Japan-Asia relations, the Asia region in this respect, as:

    • Bangladesh
    • Bhutan
    • Brunei
    • Cambodia
    • China
    • India
    • Indonesia
    • Republic of Korea
    • Laos
    • Malaysia
    • Maldives
    • Mongolia
    • Myanmar
    • Nepal
    • Pakistan
    • Philippines
    • Singapore
    • Sri Lanka
    • Thailand
    • Timor-Leste
    • Viet Nam
    • North Korea (no diplomatic relations)
    • Taiwan (no diplomatic relations)

Fourth, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea gives the following definition:

    • Afghanistan
    • Australia
    • Bangladesh
    • Bhutan
    • Brunei
    • Cambodia
    • China
    • Fiji
    • Hong Kong
    • India
    • Indonesia
    • Japan
    • Kiribati
    • Laos
    • Malaysia
    • Maldives
    • Marshall Islands
    • Micronesia
    • Mongolia
    • Myanmar
    • Nauru
    • Nepal
    • New Zealand
    • Pakistan
    • Palau
    • Papua New Guinea
    • Philippines
    • Samoa
    • Singapore
    • Solomon Islands
    • Sri Lanka
    • Taiwan
    • Thailand
    • Timor-Leste
    • Tonga
    • Tuvalu
    • Vanuatu
    • Vietnam

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has another definition, members of which they call “economies” instead of “countries”:

APEC Members Date of Joining
Australia 6-7 Nov 1989
Brunei Darussalam 6-7 Nov 1989
Canada 6-7 Nov 1989
Chile 11-12 Nov 1994
People’s Republic of China 12-14 Nov 1991
Hong Kong, China 12-14 Nov 1991
Indonesia 6-7 Nov 1989
Japan 6-7 Nov 1989
Republic of Korea 6-7 Nov 1989
Malaysia 6-7 Nov 1989
Mexico 17-19 Nov 1993
New Zealand 6-7 Nov 1989
Papua New Guinea 17-19 Nov 1993
Peru 14-15 Nov 1998
The Philippines 6-7 Nov 1989
Russia 14-15 Nov 1998
Singapore 6-7 Nov 1989
Chinese Taipei 12-14 Nov 1991
Thailand 6-7 Nov 1989
The United States 6-7 Nov 1989
Viet Nam 14-15 Nov 1998
Map of APEC member economies (New Zealand Ministry of Treasury)

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also pitched in, as quoted from his book Does America Need a Foreign Policy? pp. 110-111:

“It comprises an advanced industrial country in Japan, with an economy larger than that of any of the historic states of Europe; […] two countries—South Korea and Singapore—approaching the economic and technological capacity of the advanced industrial states; two large archipelagoes—the Philippines and Indonesia—composed of thousands of islands and controlling some of the major sea lanes; Thailand and Burma, two ancient nations with populations approximating those of France and Italy; and North Korea, a rogue nation developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. A largely Muslim population is spread across the peninsular and insular expanses of Malaysia and Indonesia, the latter having the largest Muslim population of any country in the world. Finally, there is Vietnam, which has demonstrated its military prowess and fierce nationalism in wars against France, the United States, and China, and its two neighbors, Laos and Cambodia, over which it exercises a kind of domination.”
Michael Yahuda, an Asia-Pacific scholar, defines the region as,

“[…] somewhat narrowly to include the two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union (and its more circumscribed successor, Russia); the two regional great powers, China and Japan; and the local countries of Northeast and Southeast Asia.”

Lastly, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines the region as follows:

    • Afghanistan
    • Australia
    • Bangladesh
    • Bhutan
    • Brunei Darussalam
    • Cambodia
    • China
    • Cook Islands
    • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
    • Fiji
    • India
    • Indonesia
    • Iran, Islamic Republic of
    • Japan
    • Kazakhstan
    • Kiribati
    • Kyrgyzstan
    • Lao People’s Democratic Republic
    • Malaysia
    • Maldives
    • Marshall Islands
    • Micronesia (Federated States of)
    • Mongolia
    • Myanmar
    • Nauru
    • Nepal
    • New Zealand
    • Niue
    • Pakistan
    • Palau
    • Papua New Guinea
    • Philippines
    • Republic of Korea
    • Russian Federation
    • Samoa
    • Singapore
    • Solomon Islands
    • Sri Lanka
    • Tajikistan
    • Thailand
    • Timor-Leste
    • Tonga
    • Turkey
    • Turkmenistan
    • Tuvalu
    • Uzbekistan
    • Vanuatu
    • Viet Nam
    • Macao, China*
    • Tokelau*

Thus it can be seen from the above different definitions, how different people may define the huge region differently.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s