Asia’s International Trading and Finance Centres
Edited by François Gipouloux
Chapter 1: From Entrepôts to Service Integrators: Asian Metropolises in a Changing Flows and Nodes Configuration
François Gipouloux INTRODUCTION: A GLOBAL ECONOMY OF CITIES During the last three decades, Asian megalopolises have spearheaded economic, technological and social change. Tōkyō, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and arguably many others, have accelerated East Asia’s comeback at the centre of the world economic arena. Far from being an integrated space, the region can be seen in various ways: as an heterogeneous assemblage of nation-states; or a huge manufacturing zone, mainly anchored in the coastal areas of China, in which subcontracting activities are generating an increasing flow of exports towards North American, European and Asian markets. A mere dozen urban centres are servicing this manufacturing belt, and form strategic nodes for international finance, containerised transport, export-oriented manufacturing industries, and international information networks. In those different centres, the intensity of per capita international activity is largely superior to that within the nation-state they belong to. Theses cities are located on the rim of a maritime corridor stretching from Vladivostok to Singapore which derives its economic vitality from the flows of goods, capital, technology and migrations that criss-cross it. Highly polarised, this economic area includes fragments of China (coastal areas), part of the Korean peninsula, Japan and Southeast Asian countries’ territories into its transnational dynamics. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore are also and above all new nodes in the network of international economic relations. Yet, this situation is not as new as it seems. For centuries a system of cities, linked by commercial exchanges, has existed in Asia. The 19th century...
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