How is a discussion of civil society relevant to the debate about processes of regionalism and relationalisation in Asia? With its Western intellectual heritage, is the concept of civil society present and comparable across East Asian states?1

Countries in East Asia are united by what Alagappa describes as ‘the distributional consequences arising from the embrace of capitalism and economic reform, along with the integration of national economies in the global capitalist economy’.2 Although civil society manifests itself in different ways in East Asian states, it is clear that the non-state sphere has become an important factor for political elites to consider.