Chapter 7: Towards a Sino-centric Regional Order? Empowering China and Constructing Regional Order(s)
Shaun Breslin 1. INTRODUCTION China’s re-engagement with the global political economy has had massive implications for the functioning of the global economy as a whole, and on China’s regional neighbours in particular. What has happened in China has already resulted in a reconstruction of the East Asian regional economy and has had a profound impact on individual regional economies. The Chinese leadership has also developed new policies designed to promote regional cooperation and integration and perhaps even ultimately some form of East Asian regional community. Not surprisingly, this combination of economic and diplomatic change has generated a renewed focus on China’s regional leadership ambitions and capabilities, and the extent to which China might come to challenge US hegemony in the region and beyond. This chapter accepts that state elites in the rest of East Asia are indeed altering their domestic and international strategies in response to what China already is and, more importantly, in preparation for what they expect China to become in the future. China’s regional leadership is thus in some ways already a reality because regional elites have imbued China with power and responded accordingly to their own constructed image of a Sino-centric regional future. What happens in China is clearly hugely signiﬁcant and important. But this chapter takes a deliberately cautious approach in an attempt to temper some of the more hyperbolic assertions of China’s impending rise to superpower status.1 It also suggests that the focus on China often leads to Japanese economic power being understated...
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