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Towards the twenty-first century

In the uneven economic growth among the world's major regions resulting from global restructuring, Pacific Asia has come out strongly as a leading growth region. This pattern is very likely to persist to the end of the twentieth century, as two recent long-term projections by the FUGI Global Model and JCER (Japan Centre for Economic Research) would suggest. The projection for the Asia-Pacific economies is very favourable. Whereas Japan's growth rate (at 4 per cent) is the highest among the G7 countries, the NIEs, ASEAN countries, and China will grow at over 6 per cent, making them the fastest-growing countries in the world. It is therefore not entirely groundless for some scholars to suggest that the twenty-first century will be the Pacific Century (Linder, 1986). China, as an Asian country with enormous growth potential and the only remaining communist country in the world of any import, views the internationalization of the world economy as comprising "competitive coexistence," in a notion of "one world, two systems" (i.e. capitalist and socialist) (Keith, 1989). In China's push for modernization and economic reforms, its coastal cities are assigned vital catalytic roles (Yeung and Hu, 1992).

Fig. 2.9 The spread effects of Chinese coastal cities (Source: Yeung and Hu, 1992)

On the basis of recent and projected growth trends, there is little disagreement that simple extrapolation would make the NIEs full-fledged or quasi-advanced industrial nations with GNPs close to those of EU countries by the beginning of the twenty-first century (Shinohara and Lo, 1989:12; Grosser and Bridges, 1990). Japan will replace the United States as the pre-eminent economic superpower in Pacific Asia. Some ASEAN countries will likely graduate to be new little dragons of Asia, with Thailand and possibly Malaysia and Indonesia considered as serious candidates. The Asia-Pacific economy will likely remain a non-treaty economic bloc as it has evolved with economic interdependency and structural linkages further strengthened and refined. Even in the present non-contractual economic coordination arrangement, the volume of trade achieved is comparable to that of the North American Rim involving the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean (Keith, 1989).

The continued growth of the regional economy is heavily reliant on the special roles and functions of its mega-cities. Under the new global economy, they are at once the products and instruments of the system of economic internationalization and regional integration (King, 1990:54). The urban corridors that have already been identified will be the locales for furthering the globalization of production and services in Pacific Asia.

As the present political climate veers generally towards détente and the further relaxation of East-West tensions, there are several potential frontiers of urban settlement and economic integration that will have significant long-term impact on the emerging urban system. In Japan, a trend appears to be emerging of the internationalization of local cities, following the manner in which its large cities have been connected with global change. China is publicly committed to the continuation and, in fact, further liberalization of its open policy and hence closer economic integration with the economies in the region. With the recent peace settlement in Cambodia and the restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Viet Nam, there is considerable scope for rapid urban growth and economic change/integration in the Indo-China Peninsula in an expected period of active economic cooperation and foreign investment. In North-East Asia, too, there seemed to be a sudden concern among the countries, namely China, North Korea, Mongolia, and Soviet Asia, jointly to develop the part of Pacific Asia that has to date not received enough resources and attention for development (Cho and Valencia, 1991). Finally, there are forces aimed at greater and more effective national (e.g. Indonesia) and regional (e.g. ASEAN) integration in which cities and the urban system are directly involved in a higher degree of economic and technological articulation with national and regional space economies. All these potentially exciting frontiers could radically change the present configuration of cities and the urban system in Pacific Asia in the future.

In order to expand the emerging urban and development frontiers and to consolidate and improve upon existing ones, massive investment in infrastructure is necessary. Rimmer (chap. 3) richly documents the marked increase in linkages and interactions between large cities in Pacific Asia since the 1980s. Countries and cities have invested heavily in infrastructure to facilitate the continued expansion of existing urban agglomerations and new connections among them. For example, the emphasis on developing nodes (ports, airports, and teleports) rather than links is reflected in the current construction of new super airports in Hong Kong at Chek Lap Kok, in Seoul with the New Seoul Metropolitan Airport (NSMA) off the coast of Inchon, in Chitose in suburban Sapporo, and in Osaka with Kansai International Airport on reclaimed land. In like vein, Choe (1992) foresees the future development and economic integration of North-East Asia as being heavily dependent upon investment in infrastructure, especially in transportation. Existing patterns of transportation development leave many missing links across national boundaries that must be bridged to improve regional trade and interaction.

Despite this largely optimistic prospect for Pacific Asia and its cities, there are a couple of dark clouds on the horizon. One extreme view of the present world economy is that it has become "fundamentally unmanageable," because no single institution, whether it be a superpower, a leading corporation, or a supranational agency, possesses the necessary political legitimacy and economic power to coordinate the functioning of the global economic system and to resolve the attendant inevitable conflicts of interest (Wallace, 1990:273). Another view focused on the role of global cities is that, owing to increases in capital mobility and the attendant changes in trade and foreign investment patterns, the ability of cities to determine their own economic destinies has been sharply limited (Glickman, 1987). The ability of firms rapidly to shift production globally makes cities' future less secure, and this affects mega-cities more directly than the lesser cities. As shown in this chapter, mega-cities are the linchpin in the new global economy. However, the mega-cities in Pacific Asia have developed so vigorously in recent decades that the sheer momentum of their growth will probably carry them forward with only a slim chance of these countervailing forces changing their main course of growth and expansion into the twenty-first century.


1. The World Bank, the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), among others, have supported studies on urban management and service provision issues. The United Nations Population Division has supported a series of individual city studies.

2. Japanese scholars first initiated studies of the "flying geese" in the 1930s, with Yamazawa's volume as the latest in this tradition. Interestingly, an independent but parallel explanation of the same phenomenon was propounded by Vernon (1966).

3. See also product life cycle theory (Vernon, 1966) and Akamatsu-Yamazawa's flying-geese theory (Yamazawa, 1990).


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International transport and communications interactions between Pacific Asia's emerging world cities

Multilayered flows
Goods transactions
International passengers
International telecommunications

Peter J. Rimmer

A global system of production and services is being spatially articulated through a network of emerging world cities. In particular, it involves strong linkages and interactions between world cities located in the "triad" of supra-regions - North America (Canada, the United States, and Mexico), a significantly changed Europe, and a dynamic Pacific Asia - and connections and movements between world cities within each jumbo region. Attention here is restricted to linkages and interactions between emerging world cities within Pacific Asia - the fastest-growing region in the global economy.

A major difficulty in pursuing this topic is the past preoccupation with nation-states and the internal structures of individual world cities. Little attempt has been made to establish the strength of the external linkages and interactions underlying the distribution of goods and services within Pacific Asia and the fortunes of individual cities. This raises two issues: what is the nature of the transport and communications networks between world cities; and what is the frequency of movements of goods, passengers, and information along these routes? Attention here is concentrated on the dynamic flows between world cities because the static structure of transport and communications networks has already been analysed in terms of nodes and connections (Rimmer, 1990).

In considering these issues, the first section provides a conceptual framework for examining flows preparatory to identifying the urban agglomerations and discussing data availability. Within this framework, the second section examines goods transactions. The third section analyses movements of people. Then the fourth section studies the flow of routinized information through communications networks. A concluding section raises the subject of going beyond world cities to encompass development corridors -a settlement form more appropriate to a borderless world.

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