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East Asian Civilization and the Problem of Region Making

Oleg Pakhomov

Millennial Asia, 2021, vol. 12, issue 1, 57-75

Abstract: The paper examines East Asia as regional civilization whose enduring characteristics emerged from long-term relations towards the Chinese model of a centralized state. The civilizational approach helps to understand the interrelation between different aspects of the region, such as politics, economy or culture. Chinese statehood relied on the principle of total power unrestricted by any norms of morality or laws and its neutralization by non-state institutions and informal networks. These two aspects helped to maintain a dynamic equilibrium of the political system and adapt it towards internal and external changes. The adoption of Chinese statehood came into contradiction with Korean and Japanese natural and social characteristics. This produced risks for the internal political legitimacy of political systems constructed according to the Chinese model in both countries. Necessity to preserve internal legitimacy encouraged external expansion of Imperial China and forced Korea and Japan to resist Sinocentric order but continue to adapt Chinese influence to local conditions. This contradiction defined reality of East Asian region during the traditional period, influenced its transition to modernity and remains relevant today.

Keywords: East Asia; civilization; regionalism; integration; modernization; system approach (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1177/0976399620940467

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