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Looking back, the far-Áung regional realignment of the production network and the ensuing forceful trends of economic integration within APEC— whether APEC proper or encompassing the American-PaciÀc member states across the PaciÀc—have obviously all been triggered by China’s economic reform and opening up to the West over the past three decades. SpeciÀcally, the gradual and successful conversion of China’s centrally planned and controlled system into a decentralized market-oriented and open economy as it is today has allowed the Ricardian “principle of comparative advantage” and the Heckscher-Ohlin theorem, or the so-called “Leontief paradox”, to unfold powerfully, though in practicum in gradual steps over the years. As a result, the Chinese economy is nowadays inextricably linked up with other APEC economies, large or small, to various extents. In addition to WTO serving as a common foundation for enhancing trade and investment Áows between China and the member economies, CEPA, ASEAN 10+1 FTA, ECFA, and the China-New Zealand FTA have all helped to intensify economic cooperation and integration. It seems likely that South Korea, and notably Japan, will sooner or later also be brought into the nexus as well. And with “open regionalism” prevailing, ASEAN 10+3 may be just a stone’s throw away. Should all these network FTA cornerstones consolidate into the envisaged APEC-wide FTAAP, i.e., the “Free Trade Agreement of the Asia PaciÀc”, then by virtue of her economic size, China—surpassing Japan since 2010 as the second largest economy in term of GDP, next only to the United States—would clearly become the gravity of the “geoeconomic” power in the region. This will be achieved with strong underpinning from Japan and the US—both being pivotal partner cornerstones of China within APEC. And if the pace and pattern of developments as highlighted in the foregoing chapters are of any indication, the continuous regional economic agglomeration 13 Conclusion Pax Sinica Looming on the Asia-PaciÀc Horizon 368 Pax Sinica towards and around the Chinese system will likely remain as coherent and powerful to defy any possible geopolitical interference. Cases of geopolitical clashes indeed abound, but all were eventually overridden by imperatives for regional economic synergy. Such clashes include, among others: the Diaoyutai (Senkaku islands in Japanese terms) incident on 7 September 2010, which set off the most serious China-Japan conÁict in decades; earlier on, the “mid-air collision” on 1 April 2001 near Hainan Island between the US and China, which threatened to derail the hard-won improvements in diplomatic and political relations; the large-scale “missile test” by China off the Taiwan coasts in March 1996, which prompted the US to send two aircraft carriers to the vicinity; and the conÁicting territorial claims betweenASEAN countries, notably that of Vietnam and the Philippines against China over the Paracel and Spratly Islands in South China Sea, which have resurfaced time and again, and latterly in July 2011, arousing global concern. It seems unlikely, if at all, that such and other similar geopolitical hiccups— serious as they may at times appear to be—would erupt into large-scale political confrontation or even warfare to entirely forestall the compelling forces for regional economic integration. Viewed this way, the highly provocative tirade by Secretary Hillary Clinton, delivered consecutively on herAsian tours from Honolulu to Canberra and then Hanoi in 2010 to resurrect US interest in Southeast Asia is indeed tantamount to wudifangshi (shooting aimlessly) in Chinese parlance—nothing short of an anti-China rallying.1 For one thing, being oblivious of the built-in regional dynamism for economic convergence, Clinton seemed little aware of just how the four little dragons, once serving as the frontier of the American-led “free world” against communism, have been drawn into the Chinese economic axis over the past two decades; and how even within Japan, the US’s most trusted ally, political factions have already been wrangling to reconcile the country’s enhanced stakes in the emerging economic giant across the Yellow Sea with the protective American umbrella.2 It would be misguided for Secretary Clinton to mistake the oriental courtesy of a couple of ASEAN leaders as political ambivalence to be exploited. This is especially so in view of the remarkable rapprochement and accelerated pace of economic cooperation between the two former rival communist giants, USSR and China, over the past two decades, which may possibly help to redress the gross deÀciency arising from the unipolar...


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