The ‘rise of China’ is proving to be one of the most consequential developments of the early 21 century One of the key questions it raises is about the impact this historically unprecedented process will have on the East Asian region in particular and the world more generally. Will Chinese policy makers will be able to translate the country’s growing material importance into other forms of political power and influence? Equally importantly, will Chinese elites be ‘socialised’ into the practices and norms of extant institutions, or will they attempt to redefine them to further Chinese foreign policy goals? This paper explores these questions by initially looking at the overall historical context in which East Asian regionalisation has occurred, before considering the operation of some of the more important regional institutions. It is suggested that China’s ability to offer regional leadership is constrained both by its own security policies―which are seen as increasingly threatening by many of its neighbours―and by the actions of the USA, which is trying to reassert its own claims to regional leadership. While the outcome of this process is inconclusive, it helps us to understand the more general dynamics reshaping the international system as a result of the emergence of new centres of international power
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