First EAS
The East Asia Summit
East Asia Summit
The East Asia Summit is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian region. Membership will expand to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011. EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings...

(EAS) is a pan-Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 forum held annually by the leaders of 16 countries in the East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

n region. EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings.

First summit

The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the second largest city in Malaysia by population. The city proper, making up an area of , has a population of 1.4 million as of 2010. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million...

, Malaysia on December 14, 2005.
The 16 countries and 1 observer involved were:
  • observer

The presence of non-East Asian countries

While India is included in Asia it is normally identified as part of South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 not East Asia. Australia and New Zealand are usually included in Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

 rather than Asia, although some differ and the distinction can be unclear, and they may be seen as part of the Asia Pacific.

The involvement of countries not seen as traditionally part of East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

, especially Australia and New Zealand but to a lesser extent India as well, was seen as controversial by some. The inclusion of Australia and New Zealand was considered problematic as these nations were said to be neither geographically nor culturally part of Asia. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, credited with raising the idea of an East Asian caucus, was especially critical of the involvement of Australia and New Zealand.

Australia's presence was only confirmed after Australia reversed its previous policy and agreed to accede to ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.

The presence of India was met by "quiet resistance" from China. This stance may have reflected, in part, the perception that the presence of India would act to lessen Chinese influence in the EAS, as discussed further below.

Although not strictly East Asian all three countries did have a notable history with ASEAN. In 1974 Australia became ASEAN's first dialogue partner New Zealand became a dialogue partner in the following year, 1975 Summits with ASEAN for both countries were first held in 1977.

It has been suggested that the final membership of the EAS represents an "anti-region", supplied in order to prevent the emergence of a
regional community in Asian East Asia, rather than a region.

Australia and New Zealand as the two Closer Economic Relations
Closer Economic Relations
Closer Economic Relations is a free trade agreement between the governments of New Zealand and Australia. It is also known as the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement and sometimes shortened to...

 (CER) countries have also developed close ties with ASEAN and have been negotiating a CER-ASEAN free trade agreement since 2004

The linkages between ASEAN and India are more recent India did not become a full ASEAN dialogue partner until 1995. Nevertheless India's "look East" policy has placed particular emphasis on building relationships in the Asian region

Koizumi's Visits to the Yasukuni Shrine

Japan-China and Japan-South Korea ties were strained ahead of the first Summit because of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Junichiro Koizumi
is a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan from 2001 to 2006. He retired from politics when his term in parliament ended.Widely seen as a maverick leader of the Liberal Democratic Party , he became known as an economic reformer, focusing on Japan's government debt and the...

 controversial visits to the Yasukuni shrine, which honors 14 war criminals alongside Japan's other fallen soldiers. These visits are perceived by China and South Korea as symptomatic of a Japan that has not come to terms with its role in World War II, a conclusion disputed by Japan.

The most recent (at the time) visit by Prime Minister Koizumi was on 17 October 2005, so the issue was still fresh by the EAS in December. As a result the traditional Japan-China-South Korea meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Plus Three meeting (which preceded the EAS) was cancelled by China and South Korea.

The rise of China and the need to check Chinese influence

The presence of the non-East Asian India, and to a lesser extent Australia and New Zealand, was seen by some as an attempt by some members of ASEAN (such as Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines) to include countries who by their size or economies may act as a check to the rising influence of China, especially as the weakness in Sino-Japanese relations undermined the ability of Japan to perform that role.

China has attributed the presence of Australia and India to Japanese influence.

The absence of the United States of America

The absence of the United States of America was seen by some commentators as symptomatic of what was said to be the USA's declining influence in Asia.

Some view this as linked with what is perceived as Chinese influence rising.

Outcome of the first EAS

The difficulties in the relationship between the "Plus Three" members (ie Japan, China and South Korea) of ASEAN Plus three together with the positioning of parties due to the presence of the non-East Asian countries, India, Australia and New Zealand, resulted in limitations in what could be achieved at the inaugural EAS. The role of the inaugural EAS then became a confidence building and familiarisation exercise.

The Kuala Lumpur declaration and the Avian Influenza Prevention, Control and Response declaration were signed by the 16 leaders during the first EAS.

It was agreed to hold future EASs in conjunction with the annual ASEAN meetings.

The outcomes that were achieved are summarised in the Chairman’s Statement of the First East Asia Summit.
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