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  • Globalization and Economic Security in East Asia
  • Yin Hlaing Kyaw (bio)
Globalization and Economic Security in East Asia. Edited by Helen E.S. Nesadurai. London and New York: Routledge, 2006. Hardcover: 262 pp.

Economic security is an issue that scholars and policy-makers have been dealing with for centuries. The way both scholars and policy-makers deal with the issue is in turn shaped largely by the way they define it. Using their financial prowess, the American-dominated international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have imposed a definition based mainly on economic growth on the entire world. Helen Nesadurai and her 12 colleagues have challenged this dominant definition and re-conceptualized it on the basis of East Asian experiences. The volume is divided into three parts. The two chapters in Part I argue, after reviewing various definitions of approaches, that economic security should not be operationalized in terms of overall economic growth, as classical liberals do, but both in terms of "sustainable economic growth" and "human security".

Parts II and III include chapters that analyse East Asian experiences in terms of individual countries and regional cooperation, respectively. The six case studies in Part II illustrate that the globalization process has made East Asian countries take the economic security of the general populace, including poor people, more seriously. Kevin Hewison lucidly suggests that although the Thai government has been captured by business elites, it does not ignore the the economic security of downtrodden people. Both Thai political leaders and economic elites understand that they will not be able to attend to their own interests for a long time if the rural poor people who account for a large majority of the population are not happy with the situation. In other words, the economic security of the entire populace is intertwined with the economic interests of business elites. The volume also shows that there is no correlation between the regime type and the way the regime deals with economic security issues. Although China and Vietnam are communist countries, Wang Zhengyi and Pham Cao Phong argue that the governments in both countries care about both sustainable economic development and human security as much as democratic countries like Thailand do. All case studies also suggest either directly or indirectly that globalization has both enhanced and undermined the state's ability to work for both economic development and human security. Henry Wai-Chung Yeung and Pham Cao Phong, for instance, highlight how economic globalization has created both opportunities and challenges for Singapore and Vietnam. While the opportunities make positive contributions to economic growth and [End Page 359] human security, the challenges have undermined the state's ability to work for the economic security of its own people, which in turn has a negative impact on the overall economic growth of the country. Many country studies also illustrate the importance of the state's institutional capacity in meeting the challenges of globalization. Kurnya Roesad and Pham Cao Phong, for instance, underscore how weak institutions in Indonesia and Vietnam undermine the ability of the governments of both countries to deal with economic and human security problems engendered by the globalization process.

While conceptualizing a new way of operationalizing economic security, Nesadurai and her colleagues do not dismiss the traditional realist view of economic security. Chyungly Lee shows that due to its standoff with mainland China, Taiwan's economic security is indistinguishable from its national security. The increase in China's economic power can pose a major threat to the national security of Taiwan. All in all, while illustrating the link between sustainable economic growth and human security, the chapters in Part I show that "the diverse responses in East Asia to the problem of economic (in)security under conditions of globalization are mediated by a country's particular stage of development, the nature of domestic state-society relations and the external strategic condition facing the country" (p. 19).

The four chapters in Part III move a step further by examining how multilateral cooperation will or will not help countries in dealing with economic security issues. Richard Higgott convincingly argues that while multilateral institutions are, in one way or another...


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pp. 359-362
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