During the second meeting, ARF developed a three-tier strategy of developing confidence building, evolving preventive diplomacy, and execute the proper steps and resolution. However, China opposed the measures of preventive diplomacy and stalled it effectively. The biggest issue for multilateralism was the financial crisis. The social and economic loss was heavy for the individual member countries, and the fledging multilateral organizations were damaged and battered badly.
ARF’s primary aim was to develop constructive initiation, assessment of political and security issues, and recognizing regional patterns of these issues. However, the fulfilment of this aim was always under question. China and United States nourish opposite thoughts on the issues of democracy and human rights. India, Japan, and China have a mistrusted relationship with each other. The situation is indeed complicated. ASEAN was primarily supposed to be the leading power in the construction of multilateral mechanism, but it failed heavily in establishing itself as a great geopolitical institution. It also has not been successful in handling various major issues. Even this very organization has multiple problems like leadership issue, mutual suspicions, territorial disputes, and external pressures.
The US power started to build bilateral arrangements with many other major powers. It eventually started to withdraw troops from the Asia Pacific region, but after elaborated discussions, this great power decided to send troops to maintain regional stability in the Asia-Pacific. The Clinton led government promoted the emergence of a new security system that advocated the reduction of stationed troops. Although it did not oppose multilateralism, it gave more emphasis on the development of the existing system. This is happening till now because scepticism about multilateralism is growing up.
Bilateral architecture has been supported by the great powers time and time again. This is because the bilateral system does not threaten their dominance, the exercise of power, or other interests. The most discussed bilateral relation is that between US and China. The relation was straight-forward as long as a common enemy existed. However, China started to establish itself as a major global power. Since then, there have been various issues and problems within the structural relationship. Some experts see an inevitable clash in the future, but others demand a constructive management to solve this problem. The bilateral system has made its mark in the relations between China and Japan, Japan and North Korea, India and China. The security strategy in the Asia-Pacific has tried to adopt multipolar approach over bipolar systems, but the situations and the problems clearly manifest the limitations of multilateralism. The uncertainties in the strategic adaptation and the fluidity within the political exercises have prevented these strategies from becoming successful.