Yunnan-A Chinese Bridgehead to Asia

A Case Study of China’s Political and Economic Relations with its Neighbours


  • Tim Summers, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

The Chinese Government’s five-year strategy for social and economic development to 2015 includes the aim of making the southwestern province of Yunnan a bridgehead for ‘opening the country’ to southeast Asia and south Asia. Yunnan - A Chinese Bridgehead to Asia traces the dynamic process which has led to this policy goal, a process through which Yunnan is being repositioned from a southwestern periphery of the People’s Republic of China to a ‘bridgehead’ between China and its regional neighbours. It shows how this has been expressed in ideas and policy frameworks, involvement in regional institutions, infrastructure development, and changing trade and investment flows, from the 1980s to the present.

Detailing the wider context of the changes in China's global interactions, especially in Asia, the book uses Yunnan's case to demonstrate the extent of provincial agency in global interactions in reform-era China, and provides new insights into both China’s relationships with its Asian neighbours and the increasingly important economic engagement between developing countries.
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Scholars and practitioners with interests in China’s international relations and regional developments


Book information

  • Published: May 2013
  • Imprint: Chandos Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-0-85709-444-5


Yunnan is one of China's most strategically important regions, occupying a critical area where it serves as a bridgehead between the rest of the country and the diverse and complicated economies and polities of south and southeast Asia. Tim Summers has intimate experience of working in the region and has produced an excellent, readable and comprehensive study, locating this ethnically rich province in its historic and regional context, but then using Yunnan to illustrate the complex interdependencies of provinces in modern China and the ways in which they relate to the central government, to other provinces, and to the wider world. An important and rewarding new study., Kerry Brown, University of Sydney
This is a succinct, clearly-written and well-presented discussion of how a province is able to articulate its own goals while working within a national system where many of the macro-economic policy levers like interest rates, growth targets and tax raising powers are still in the hands of the central government., Asian Review of Books

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why Yunnan? China in a changing world; Yunnan’s history in regional perspective; Repositioning Yunnan: Ideas and policy; Yunnan and regional institutions; Infrastructure development; From border trade to ‘going out’; Conclusion.