Beyond new regionalism, beyond global production networks: remaking the Sunan model, China
I attempt to advance the research on globalization and regional development in China through a study of Kunshan City. I investigate the restructuring process, the structure of foreign direct investment, and the nature of global – local networks to understand trajectories and models of regional development in the context of globalization. I highlight the interactions of the Chinese state, transnational corporations (TNCs), and regional assets in shaping the trajectories of regional development. I argue that Kunshan’s pathway to globalizing regional development is state centered and heavily dependent on global forces, which has made Kunshan a TNC satellite district and a dual city segmented between TNCs and domestic firms. I also argue that TNCs’ local embeddedness has to be positioned in their global and external networks and that the assessment of regional development has to be conditioned upon a region’s specific context. The findings suggest that neither new regionalism nor global production network perspectives can fully explain regional development in China with huge domestic markets and large regional disparities. I promote an alternative, middle-ground perspective to regional development to better integrate global forces, state institutions, and local contexts. Such a third approach to regional development has the potential to localize TNCs and to develop indigenous capacities.
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