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Shaun Breslin - CSGR Working Paper No. 38/99 - September 1999

Decentralisation, Globalisation and the "Creation" of Trans-National Economic Regions in the People's Republic of China

The abandonment of China’s relatively isolationism from the global economy has given rise to a growing interest in the relationship between political and economic space in contemporary China. In particular, increased economic interaction between Southern China, Hong Kong and Taiwan has promoted interest in the efficacy of concepts such as "growth triangles", "region states" and "greater China" in understanding the emergence of new economic spaces. This paper compares the Southern Chinese experience with attempts to create a transnational economic space in Northeast Asia. It argues that intergovernmental processes have been less effective in facilitating regional economic integration than non-state directed forces. In particular, decentralisation of power in post-Mao China created a situation where the relationship between local state actors within China, and non-state actors outside China, have become a key determinant of how China has re-engaged with the regional and global economy.

Keywords: China, Greater China, decentralisation, globalisation.

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