China and Economic Regionalism in East Asia

Authored by: Kevin G. Cai

The Ashgate Research Companion to Regionalisms

Print publication date:  January  2012
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754677628
eBook ISBN: 9781315613499
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041863


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Since the mid-1980s, economic regionalism in East Asia has been gradually evolving. Originally an autonomous process of intraregional trade and foreign direct investment (FDI) primarily driven by market forces, economic regionalism in East Asia is now characterised by a deliberate process of increasingly institutionalised economic cooperation among East Asian states in the larger context of globalisation and regionalism in the world economy. In this process, China’s attitude and policy towards institutionalised regional cooperation has also gradually changed from suspicion and opposition to active support and involvement, particularly since the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98. This chapter examines China’s changing attitude and policy towards East Asian regionalism, and its subsequent moves to pursue institutionalised regional economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific in general and East Asia in particular. The discussion in the chapter is organised into three sections. The first section explores China’s changing perspective and policy on East Asian economic regionalism and the underlying forces therein. The second section studies Beijing’s policy initiatives and actions in pursuing institutionalised regional cooperation in East Asia since the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98. The concluding section provides an overall assessment of China’s new policy of pushing for institutionalised regional cooperation in East Asia from multiple perspectives.

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