MJIEL Vol 6 Issue 1 2009 - Article 3

Abstract: One of the most complex problems of today’s global trading system is the regionalization of trading patterns and the proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTAs). While regionalism has been in existence for several decades since World War II, China is a relative latecomer and only very recently surged in the regional integration scenario. This article reviews Chinese RTAs contents, evaluates the key features of these RTAs, discusses the geopolitical and economic rationales and analyzes the significance for institutional settings and progressive legalism. In conclusion, the article argues that China’s quest for regional trade arrangements is indicative of weaknesses in the world multilateral system. The author believes it is beneficial for China to combine multilateral trade liberalization as a WTO member with accelerated regional liberalization, so far as Chinese RTAs neither divert trade nor diverge from multilateral rules.

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