TROPICAL GEOGRAPHY ›› 2018, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (1): 1-12.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.002975

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Review of Regional Integration: Scales, Links and Borders

CHEN Hanghang,HE Canfei,MAO Xiyan   

  1. (a.School of Urban Planning and Design;b.College of Urban and Environmental Sciences,Peking University,Beijing 100871,China)
  • Online:2018-01-05 Published:2018-01-05


As one of the most dynamic economic phenomena nowadays, regional integration is considered to be a multi-dimensional spatial phenomenon and a multidisciplinary scientific issue. With the increase in the difficulty of multilateral free trade negotiations, the global free trade system has come to a deadlock. At the same time, many bilateral or limited multilateral regional integration organizations have been triumphantly aroused, which make regional integration become one of the most valuable research issues. The rapidly increasing number of integrated organizations and the deepening cooperation inside the organizations both show that a new round of regional integration tide is emerging. In this context, geography’s unique scale, link and border perspective are important for understanding how regional integration can change the world economic pattern and its impact on national and regional development. This paper reviews the theory and development of regional integration, reexamines the rapid development of regional integration process from the perspective of scale, link and border, and expounds the network characteristics, multi-dimensional connection and multiple borders in regional integration processes. In order to better understand regional and local development, some recent researches are discussed from the perspective of “global-local” links. Some basic understandings are expounded in this paper. The practice of regional integration is showing more and more characteristics of the network, forming a network space driven by state power and based on relationships. The multi-dimensional proximity within the regional integration is the driving force for the rapid development and diversified forms. With the emergence of a large number of regional integration organizations, the construction of global scales also requires more consideration of the roles of regions and the links of multiple dimensions. Regional integration builds a new border, which is essentially based on the relationship between members, relying on the state forces to intervene and regulate trade and other relationships. It is a selective, directional and dynamic network, showing a characteristic of “re-territorialization”. At the same time, the traditional territorial border is still important. Regional integration reshapes the local development model and economic geography patterns of member countries, and its institutional arrangements deeply influence the border region development and industrial geography patterns. This paper summarizes the theoretical and practical characteristics of regional integration from the perspective of economic geography, points out some related problems and some future research trends from the perspective of scale construction, internal links, border effect and multi-dimension analysis for better understanding and practicing regional integration.

Key words: regional integration, economic globalization, scale, link, border, economic geography