Why, we have to ask, have putatively inadequate ‘Western’ IR theories been applied over and over again to explain and understand Asian international relations? How can we develop more satisfying explanations of the international politics of Asia? In relation to such questions, this article demonstrates how academic disciplinary socialisation entails competition and selection, which tends towards the elimination of approaches or explanations that do not fit into the socialised practice, without generating new ones. It is argued here that interweaving existing IR theories with Asia's empirical material and remoulding the theories through gathering empirical evidence on the regional reality and converting it into theoretical variables, comparable in the field of IR, should be our goal. In order to apprehend Asian international relations better and to contribute to advancing the discipline of IR, we need an accumulation of theoretical knowledge sensitive to and attentive to local difference.