The East Asian G20 members - China, Japan and Korea - are playing an increasingly important role in governing the global economy. Their global political rise is frequently discussed in binary terms in which the 'realist' assumption of inevitable conflict between rising and declining powers is contrasted with the 'liberal' assumption of the region's growing integration into international institutions. This article offers an alternative explanation for East Asia's global political role by shifting attention to the internal dynamics of the East Asian development model. This 'second image' interpretation of international political economy focuses on the ways in which domestic political economies influence international negotiations and institutions. Furthermore, this article departs from a focus on national political economies and considers the global role of the East Asian model of capitalism as such. At the empirical level, this article investigates the role of East Asian G20 members in international macroeconomic coordination and in reducing global economic imbalances.