|China's about-face to the TPP: Economic and security accounts compared
|Taylor & Francis
|Journal of Contemporary China
When the US restarted the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in 2009, speculation arose as to whether China would compete against it or cooperate by becoming a TPP member. Between 2010 and 2013, China shifted in stance from competition to cooperation in meeting the TPP challenge. By looking at both the economic and security dimensions, this article argues that China’s economic concern determines whether to react and its security concern determines the direction in which China reacts. Between 2010 and 2012 when security pressure was overwhelming and economic concern was not formidable, counterbalance was inevitable. In 2013, when anxiety over security pressure calmed down and economic concern grew more threatening, bandwagon became possible. This finding challenges the classical theory of the domino effect by pinpointing the importance of security consideration in where the free trade agreements (FTA) proliferation heads to. It also supplements the emulation–competition dichotomy by highlighting that whether the FTA initiator is considered a threat or a model is not fixed but contingent upon the initiator’s changing relation with the responding nation.
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