The significance of regionalism as an element of China's security and foreign policy : the case of the Tumen River Area Development Project (TRADP)
Since the end of Cold War, processes of regionalisation have developed in a world experiencing globalisation. The Tumen River Area Development Project (TRADP) is an UNDP-initiated multilateral sub-regional scheme for economic cooperation that emerged in 1992 and was institutionalised by the establishment of the Tumen Secretariat in 1995. It is based on 'North-South' cooperation as well as a socialist-capitalist division of labour among six neighbouring countries (China, Russia, DPRK, ROK, Mongolia, and Japan), involving certain adjacent areas in the Tumen River region - which serves as a natural border for China, Russia, and North Korea. Arguing that the project has a significance that is more political than economic, the thesis will explore the significance of regionalism as an element of China's security and foreign policy. China was the project's most active supporter, from the late 1980s to the late 1990s. This thesis will argue that China developed the Tumen project not only as part of its own pursuit of domestic development, but also in order to take the initiative in regional economic development and to alter the distribution of power in Northeast Asia, in particular, the Korean Peninsula. The thesis will also attempt to explain why China has found it so difficult to bring the project to fruition. The Chinese government did not provide proper infrastructure and give the project high priority in its national development policy. As a result, the project could not be attractive to the private sector, which was to be the major source of international investment. Further, the participating countries were concerned about Chinese motives and the economic and political-security implications of the project for the region. Thus, the project came to be regarded as a political ploy and was treated accordingly. This research hopes to make a contribution in two major ways. One is to understand the characteristics and trends of regionalism in East Asia; and the other is to delineate the scope and limits of China's seemingly more interdependent, cooperative, and multilateral foreign behaviour since the late 1980s.