This Article examines the interactions of power politics and international economic law in the development of regionalism in Asia, particularly in the context of United States-China trade relations. It argues that the process of regional economic integration in Asia has been slow-moving because of the politicization of regionalism by power rivalries. China’s initial regional integration initiatives apparently ignored the United States, a superpower which has always been a major player in Asia and an indispensable part of the region’s economic process. The United States-led Trans-Pacific Partnership was allegedly designed to exclude China, Asia’s largest economy. On the other hand, the Trans-Pacific Partnership also spurred the effects of competitive liberalization, pushing China to deepen its economic reform domestically and engage its trading partners on friendlier terms at regional and international levels. The demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership does not amount to the death of its cutting-edge rules. Those rules have laid a solid foundation for developing high-standard template agreements for Free Trade Agreements of the next generation, and many of them are likely to be incorporated into an upgraded multilateral trading system. United States’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership offers a golden opportunity for Asian countries to establish a real Pan-Asia free trade area through the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, but in the long run, regional integration in Asia should look beyond Asia and include the economies of the American side of the Pacific for both economic and strategic reasons. The Article concludes with a few suggestions.
Recommended CitationJiangyu Wang, Between Power Politics and International Economic Law: Asian Regionalism, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and U.S.-China Trade Relations, 30 Pace Int'l L. Rev. 383 (2018)
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