BY BEN HABIB. During the past week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been in Vietnam representing Australia at the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. East Asia—comprising China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Russia, Taiwan and the United States as a vested external player—is a complex strategic environment characterised by ongoing rivalry and historic animosity. It is a region vital to Australia’s economic and security interests. Because of these broad economic and security interests, it is important that we in Australia come to a better understanding of the dynamics of international politics in the East Asian region.