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A street vendor pushes her cart in the rain in Hanoi, 15 October 2020. (Nhac Nguyen/AFP)

How should Southeast Asian countries respond to an upsurge in Chinese investment

In this geostrategic climate, Southeast Asian countries should welcome rather than reject investments from China for their own developmental needs. Welcoming Chinese investment will also likely spur competing investments from the West and Japan.
A general view shows a market in Phnom Penh on 2 October 2020. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Cambodia: Hard landing for China’s soft power?

Since the early 2000s, there has been an influx of Chinese nationals, investment, and development assistance as part of China’s projection of its soft power in Cambodia, most prominently in Sihanoukville. All this has led to resentment among Cambodians, amid China's seeming efforts to turn Sihanoukville into Cambodia's Shenzhen.
Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Marine Corps are seen in training in China, 21 January 2016. (Stringer/REUTERS)

Will China establish military bases in Southeast Asia?

The US Department of Defence has asserted that Beijing has “likely considered” logistics and basing infrastructure in five Southeast Asian countries. It is worth noting that such arrangements are predicated on a host nation’s inclination to support such a presence. At the moment, such willingness appears to be in short supply, except in the case of Cambodia.
A stretch of the 400-kilometre long China-Laos railway in Vientiane, 29 July 2020. (Xinhua)

China's Belt and Road Initiative faces huge challenges in Southeast Asia

Beijing has pledged financing, materials, technology and manpower to build railroads, hydropower stations and other infrastructure projects in Southeast Asian countries under the BRI. But China continues to face enormous challenges getting projects off the ground in countries that need the investment most. US academic Murray Hiebert examines why.
A view of the Mekong river bordering Thailand and Laos is seen from the Thai side in Nong Khai, Thailand, 29 October 2019. (Soe Zeya Tun/REUTERS)

Chinese academics: Mekong must not become second South China Sea

China said that it would share year-round hydrological information of the upper Mekong with downstream countries during the recently concluded 3rd Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders' Meeting held via video conference. Will this help assuage fears that China is using the control of water flow in the Mekong as a lever, literally, to exert greater influence on the CLMVT (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand) countries in ASEAN? Chinese academics Zhai Kun and Deng Han warn that China and Southeast Asian countries must be wary of external forces politicising matters in the Mekong region.
A woman walks in front of a drawing of Chinese President Xi Jinping on a wall at the Leishenshan Hospital that had offered beds for coronavirus patients in Wuhan, April 11, 2020. (Noel Celis/AFP)

Covid-19: China’s shifting narrative and the role of Southeast Asia

Did Covid-19 originate in Wuhan? Were ASEAN countries friendly to China in this fight against the pandemic? Who provided aid to whom? Lye Liang Fook examines how China's narrative has changed since the coronavirus epidemic began and to what extent Southeast Asia has played a role in this process.
Chinese President Xi Jinping with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Great Hall of the People, 5 February 2020. (Xinhua)

Hun Sen’s China visit: Love in the time of coronavirus

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen visiting China while the latter is knee-deep in efforts to contain the new coronavirus provides some food for thought. ISEAS academic Lye Liang Fook analyses what it means for China-Cambodia relations.
The Mekong River at Sangkhom district in the northeastern Thai province of Nong Khai, with Laos seen on the right. The once mighty Mekong River has been reduced to a thin, grubby neck of water across Northern Thailand - record lows blamed on drought and a recently opened dam hundreds of kilometers upstream. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)

The Mekong River’s future and the role of China

The Mekong river is ecologically rich, and a source of life in more ways than one. However, its system is being threatened by the construction of dams by China. Independent scholar Milton Osborne examines the impact of human activity on the Mekong delta.