In the comparative research we present here as the introduction to a set of case studies, we first assess the quality of democratic procedures, content and outcomes in eight countries in the Asia-Pacific region on the basis of quantitative and qualitative data. Second, we investigate whether, to what extent, and how democratic qualities relate to one another. These investigations are carried out by applying an analytical framework that we developed elsewhere. In contrast to our previous empirical findings demonstrating that all the qualities go hand in hand, that participation and competition are the main determinants of democratic qualities, and that the democratic qualities form a funnel of causality, the present study suggests a different set of conclusions. In the Asia-Pacific region, the democratic qualities are weakly related to one another, do not form a funnel of causality, and participation and competition are not the main drivers of democratic quality. The data presented in the empirical section of the paper claim the existence of an Asia-Pacific exceptionalism. By carefully examining the cases included in our sample, we provide a detailed explanation for why, at least as far as democratic qualities are concerned, the Asia-Pacific region may be exceptional and unique. We reach the conclusion that responsiveness could be achieved by a transition from a rule by law - often coupled with the prominence of patronage, patrimonialist practices and privileges for the elite - to a proper rule of law.