This article assesses contending regional perspectives on Pacific‐rim divisions of labour based on a comparative study of production networks organized by three electronics firms (from Japan, the USA and Hong Kong) for manufacturing in the sub‐regional context of Hong Kong and Shenzhen (PRC). The author argues that the flying geese model rightly discerns the possibility of upward mobility of late industrializing countries. This model, in combination with network analyses on the characteristics of Japanese firms, helps distinguish the developmental role of Japanese capital. However, the model has a disregard for the specific roles of US and overseas Chinese capital, and the filling of this gap can benefit from the regional rivalry perspective. The negative impacts of foreign investment are succinctly reflected in the regional dependence argument. Nevertheless, its exogenous bias needs to be avoided and the analysis of the endogenous factors, particularly the role of the state, can draw on the statist approach. As the regional economic reality is changing rapidly, future regional research will need to investigate how governments and firms develop strategies to cope with the continued Asian economic slow‐down and political changes and reshape the regional political economy.