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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.