ARF came into existence and developed gradually through multiple difficult circumstances. The ASEAN did not provide any spontaneous support in the creation or development of the ARF. This proposal was produced by Japan and later supported by Canada and Australia. ASEAN probably feared that its own importance would be curbed down with the emergence of the ARF and the APEC. The ASEAN could very well understand that security issues of Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia were interlinked. They were in a situational dilemma after the end of the Cold War and the introduction of the Cambodian issue. ASEAN now had two choices — either to live under the shadows of emerging multilateral institution or to lead and guide the prospects of the multilateralism.
ASEAN agreed to the creation of cooperative multilateral institutions after APEC was thoroughly apprehended, but it was majorly influenced by political powers and their agendas. Therefore, APEC guided the pathway to the creation of new multilateral security architectures. The issue of the Asia Pacific Security became a great issue of debate because of two incidents — firstly, the attempt of China to occupy the Spratlys which eventually lead to a war between China and Vietnam resulting in the death of 80 Vietnamese soldiers; and secondly, the declaration of China’s National People’s Congress to establish its sovereignty over each and every island in the midst of the South China Sea. Japan was not convinced about the viability of creating new multilateral security structures. The US was afraid of this new system overshadowing their bilateral alliance, and China was afraid of being forced to withdraw its sovereignty from all its self-claimed regions.
The US started to adopt liberal policies and promote the creation of multilateral institutions so that it does not have to unnecessarily send its troops to other regions. As a result, ARF adopted a cooperative security approach that could produce best possible results. This new mechanism was flexible, gradualist, balanced, and timely. The first meeting of ARF mainly discussed the issues of its geographical dimension and the future of the bilateral system. It was decided that ARF will supervise security issues throughout Asia.