This paper attempts to further contribute to the understanding and analysis of the main reasons and most consequences of the increasingly important role the People’s Republic of China plays with regard to the politico-economic integration initiatives that have been taking place in both the Asia Pacific and Latin American regions in the last two decades. In order to do so, this study will adopt a Peripheral Realist (邊陲現實主義) perspective to examine the intra-regional and cross-regional free trade agreements that the PRC will either be signing in the near future –such as ASEAN + 1, in the case of the former– or it has already signed in the last few years with trans-Pacific partners –such as Chile and Peru, in the latter case.
In addition to the aforementioned agreements, this study focuses on the relevance of the China factor in a number of sub-regional integration processes that have been taking place in several Latin American countries for a number of years and that have been recently reinvigorated and propelled by the strong and sustained involvement of the PRC in the region in the last few years. Keeping the main tenets of Peripheral Realism in mind, this paper will argue that one of the most interesting features of such processes is that they are characterized by the participation of sub-national, infra-state level actors. To illustrate the above point, this study will examine the case of Zicosur (South America Mid-West Integration Zone, 南美中西部一体化區域), which represents a process of integration of certain peripheral regions of several countries oriented to the strengthening of their development through mutual cooperation, including the so-called Bi-Oceanic Corridor ( a railway network connecting the Chilean ports in the Pacific to the Brazilian ones in the Atlantic) and representing the pursuit of region-wide coalitions as a means of dealing with the opportunities and threats of globalization. Finally, the advantages and disadvantages, the opportunities and threats –such as potentially heightened competition between the two regions– that the extremely relevant role that China has been playing in the last few years as a leading trade partner to and source of investment for both Asia Pacific and Latin America will be examined.
IDAS Symposium: The Rising Asia Pacific Region: Opportunities and Challenges for Cooperation, p.267-287. 亞太研究英語博士學位學程學術研討會：崛起中的亞太區域：合作的機會與挑戰, p.267-287.
International Doctoral Program in Asia-Pacific Studies, National Chengchi University, Ph. D student