China and East Asian Regional Integration
Within East Asia, cooperative mechanisms pertaining to regional integration have been enhanced. This can be seen in the multilateralization of the Chiang Mai Initiative, the US push for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the successful conclusion of the South Korea-US free trade agreement. Chinese policymakers have in turn focused on developing a ROK-China FTA, which could be expanded to include Japan. China’s leadership is also determined to focus on ASEAN Plus Three and ASEAN Plus Six FTA negotiations. How will the China’s new leadership envision China’s expanding role in East Asian regional integration? What will be the role of regional institutions, such as APEC and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation? How might China’s new leadership envision prospects for eventual political integration in East Asia?
With the inauguration of China’s new leadership, policymakers, economists, and scholars around the world are focusing on how China’s new leadership will change or continue the current economic policies formed and implemented by previous generations. How will the new leadership adjust between the status quo and social challenges, such as inequality between rich and poor? How will China’s new leadership address the economic inequality and uneven development between the coastal and rural regions? How will China’s new leaders attempt to achieve environmentally sustainable economic development? How will Chinese leaders reduce China’s historic dependence on cheap labor and resource consumption for economic growth? How will they manage China’s domestic demand, inflation, housing bubble, anti-investment, and the interests of state-owned enterprises? What will be the economic and political implications of the slowing of Chinese national economic growth both for China and the international community?
Relations between mainland China and Taiwan have been politically strained in the years since the Chinese Civil War, such as during the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis. Nevertheless, there has also been significant improvement in cross-strait relations, including the development of strong economic ties and exchanges of humanitarian aid during major crises, such as after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. How will China’s new leadership perceive Taiwan? How might China’s new leaders seek political improvement in cross-strait relations? How will economic cooperation influence political cross-strait relations in the Xi Jinping era? How will Taiwan perceive the new Chinese leadership’s policies toward Taiwan? What are the implications for cross-strait relations of US ties to mainland China, Taiwan, and the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia?