The four countries represented in this volume are East Asian middle powers with strategic constraints upon their traditional security policymaking. These middle powers have pursued diplomatic activities raising their international profile or footprint, and advancing their national interest, through normative foreign policy and humanitarian channels, including peacebuilding, development, and human security. In each case, therefore, there is a happy coincidence of the national interest of the middle power expressed though certain diplomatic “niches,” and benefit to regional partners in peace and development. The Niche Diplomacy of Asian Middle Powers seeks to uncover the unique contributions of Asian middle powers to the furtherance of humanitarian and human-related policymaking, including the promotion of peace, development and democracy long associated with middle-powerism, with particular emphasis on their involvement in the Southeast Asian subregion. Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have made Southeast Asia a focus for their attempts to get more “bang for their foreign policy buck” (or Yen or Won) and have adopted similar normatively justified variations on the theme of “new Southern policies.” Meanwhile, Thailand looks to play a variety of middle power roles within a region where it is a major actor.
Brendan M. Howe is professor of international relations at Ewha Women's University and president of the Asian Political and International Studies Association.
Chapter 1: East Asian Middle Power ‘Do-Gooding’ Brendan Howe
Chapter 2: Japan’s Human Security and Peacebuilding Diplomacy: Middle Power by Any Other Name Haruko Satoh and Carmina Yu Untalan
Chapter 3: Humanitarian Policymaking as South Korean Niche Diplomacy Brendan Howe
Chapter 4: Foreign Aid, Democracy Promotion, and Taiwan’s Quest for Recognition Christian Schafferer
Chapter 5: Humanitarian Self-Interest? Assessing Thailand’s Developmental Initiative in Mainland Southeast Asia Paul Chambers and Poowin Bunyavejchewin
Chapter 6: Conclusion Brendan Howe
Due to the intensifying US.-China rivalry, discourses on international relations in East Asia have come to focus more on geo-politics and geo-economics. This book is an important reminder that there are critical agenda and roles that would sustain a regional order from the bottom up, advanced by regional middle powers.
The Niche Diplomacy of Asian Middle Powers argues cogently and persuasively that Asian middle powers can significantly contribute to the peace and stability of East Asia by earnestly pursuing peacebuilding, human security and foreign aid in the region. It notes that peace and stability do not depend on great powers alone and their balance of power and military deterrence
The Niche Diplomacy of Asian Middle Powers is based on good scholarship and solid research…. The book convincingly examines the importance of Asian middle powers and the impact of their normative foreign policy and niche diplomacy when studying the promotion of peace and human security. It serves as a reminder to all readers interested in Asian security of the growing role of middle powers in an era still regarded as dominated by rising China-US rivalry that could ultimately lead to conflict.