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.
While farmers in Southeast Asia have benefited from China's growing consumer market, malpractices in the agribusiness sector often result in devastating environmental issues. Hong Kong academic Enze Han examines the situation at corn plantations in Myanmar and banana plantations in Laos to see what can be done to better monitor and regulate foreign entry and practices in these countries.
For India to be a significant player in Myanmar, it needs to do more, whether on its own or by working with others. Muhammad Saad Siddiqui suggests that an obvious partner is actually China. Difficult bilateral ties aside, there is much room for cooperation.
Uncertainty over the Myitsone Dam project and the influx of Chinese into Myanmar have not gone down well with the people of Myanmar. ISEAS academic Nyi Nyi Kyaw examines the rise of sinophobia in Myanmar, and the factors behind it.
Given the US-China competition, China is working to grow its influence in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia. ISEAS senior fellow Lye Liang Fook looks at the recent visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping to Myanmar, and China's other efforts in Southeast Asia.