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Keywords:

  • GLOBALIZATION;
  • GLOBAL PRODUCTION NETWORKS;
  • GLOBAL TRANSFORMATIONS;
  • CHINA;
  • TAIWAN

Abstract

The rise of ‘greater’ China (which includes mainland China, the ‘special administrative regions’ of Hong Kong and Macao and – particularly for our purposes – Taiwan), marks a transformative process in terms of the global political economy. China is now the world's second biggest economy, and continues to post double-digit growth despite the global downturn. More significant than the numeric size of China's economy per se, is the extraordinary scale at which it is combining labour with capital to transform raw materials into commodities and, as part of that process, embedding the potential for innovation within China's political economy and society. In the introductory article to this special issue, we highlight the implications arising from the dynamism of Greater China for the evolving structures of global production networks (GPNs). The GPN framework provides a powerful analytical tool with which to map the shifting nature of corporate power and capital in the global economy and their consequences for local producers and regions. The externalization of the Chinese political economy and, with it, the emergence of Chinese lead firms, suggests that Western-centric views on GPNs are likely to be challenged. We outline the ways in which the contributions to this special issue throw light on this, and the implications that arise for analysis of GPNs within China as well as for other developing countries. We conclude by considering the consequences this transformative process has for the developmental project and how it might be theorized.