While China appears to be getting further embroiled in the Russia-Ukraine war on the side of Russia and may seek to influence close ally Cambodia to follow suit, the latter does not seem to be easily swayed.
Taking an overview of global megatrends, including rising inflation, changes to business valuation and the race for technological supremacy, Indonesian business magnate Ang Tjoen Ming (Tahir) sieves out opportunities for Indonesia, and ways forward that could see it becoming one of the world’s seven largest economies in the next ten years.
Two China-driven projects show striking contrasts. The newly opened Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has been well-received by Cambodians. But grand plans for Sihanoukville to be an investment hub and “multi-purpose” city have instead seen Chinese businesses crowding out locals, a boom-bust cycle in construction and illicit trades.
Cambodian commentator Sokvy Rim explains why recent Chinese immigrants in Cambodia are viewed with suspicion and even some dislike despite major Chinese investment flows in Cambodia and related economic benefits.
Susannah Patton, director of the Southeast Asia Program at Lowy Institute, asserts that though they seem to be taking a neutral stance, many Southeast Asian countries’ responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increasing US-China tensions on Taiwan have in fact affirmed narratives that are implicitly more critical of the US and other G7 countries. This may help to shape a regional environment that is far too permissive of aggression and coercion — the precise scenario that the countries hope to avoid.
Academic Ngeow Chow Bing takes stock of the "one China" policy of Southeast Asian countries, noting changes in interpretations over the years and their subtle differences from China's "one China" principle and the US's "one China" policy. He warns that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has exacerbated cross-strait tensions and could further limit Taiwan's international space in Southeast Asia.
In this fourth instalment of a seven-part Lianhe Zaobao-Business Times series on China and ASEAN, we look at the role of Chinese investors in the rise, fall and recovery of Cambodia’s Sihanoukville province.
Cambodia is one of Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economies, but it has also become a hotbed of Chinese telecoms and online scams targeted at mainland Chinese in recent years. Most of the scam rings based in Sihanoukville recruit mainland Chinese, but have also started to bring in Chinese from Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Once duped into joining their firms, these workers are trapped and forced to work as online scammers. Lianhe Zaobao journalist Daryl Lim visited Sihanoukville in May to get a better picture.
Cambodia’s hearty relations with Russia means that it should have taken a less strident view of the latter’s invasion of Ukraine. Intriguingly, Phnom Penh’s position has tacked closer to Western critics of the Kremlin. Not only did Cambodia support the UNGA's resolution to condemn Russia, but it also co-sponsored it. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has also said he is not afraid to anger Moscow.