The recently accelerated economic integration of Northeast Asia may intensify regional cooperation in ways that impact upon important American interests. What is the emerging pattern of bilateral relations linking the major countries in Northeast Asia, including China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia? How likely is it that regionalism will pose a challenge to Washington's leading role in the ongoing process of globalization?

At a June 24 book launch hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center's Asia Program, Gilbert Rozman of Princeton University discussed with the Washington community his new book, Northeast Asia's Stunted Regionalism: Bilateral Distrust in the Shadow of Globalization, recently released by Cambridge University Press. On the next day, Rozman spoke on the same topic at a Capitol breakfast seminar for a group of congressional staff.

Rozman provided a comprehensive picture of the pursuit of regionalism across Northeast Asia in six periods over the past 15 years. For each period, he identified the main dynamic and problems in establishing regionalism. In particular, Rozman examined conflicting strategies of China, Japan, South Korea and Russia in developing regionalism, emphasizing both their bilateral relations and the globalization role of the United States. Relying on many sources in different languages of the region, he demonstrated how suspicious perceptions of these neighbors toward each other have undermined their aspirations for regional integration.

While the six-power talks on North Korea may open a new era where Northeast Asia can begin to build a new regionalism, Rozman concluded that a regional organization similar to the European Union is unlikely to appear in Northeast Asia prior to 2015, and that the United States will continue to play a leading role in the region for the foreseeable future.