Aiding Southeast Asia: Exploring further Chinese projection in Southeast Asia, 2000-2022
Part 1Session 4
Thu 09:00-10:30 Room 3.05
Part 2Session 5
Thu 11:00-12:30 Room 3.05
- Marie Gibert-Flutre Université Paris Cité
- Nathalie Fau Centre d'études en sciences sociales sur les mondes africains
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China’s diplomatic negotiators in Southeast Asia: individual trajectories, business sphere and associative cooperation
Aymeric Mariette Université de Paris
Hui Yun Cher Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales
Xavier Delannay Sciences Po and Centre Asie du Sud-Est
China’s investment in Southeast Asia is driven by a diversity of diplomatic and business negotiators, who mobilize and adapt investment tools to respective interests and negotiations with the host country. While the literature around this interest group in the overseas investment from a China perspective is flourishing, it is high time to deal exclusively on the personal and associative logic from a Southeast Asia empirical view, notably on the modalities of intermediary negotiators, local business elite network and associations in ‘hosting’ China’s investment. Firstly, this research highlights the interconnective dynamics of the diplomatic, (a)political and business figures who constitute hierarchical interest and bureaucratic interrelation in shaping the negotiations at the state-state and state-business level. Secondly, at the corporate level, we shed light on associative network, corporation and bargaining between Chinese and local actors in grand projects, such as special economic zones, ports and metallurgy. By zooming in the empirical case of Malaysia, we argue that the convergence and the competition of business interest among the individual negotiators and business associations continue to enrich the Chinese investment circulation and give rise to a new interrogation on the bilateral yet asymmetric corporative norms.
China’s power play in Indonesia: infrastructure investment and territorial incursions
Daniel Peterson Deakin University
As Australia-China and US-China relations becoming increasingly rivalrous, Indonesia is transforming into a geopolitical arena. Once seen as an emerging market where international entities would come to profit from its natural resources, Indonesia finds itself at the centre of the geopolitical interests of various major powers, as evidenced by the revival of the Quad and establishment of AUKUS. International entities and countries are now coming to Indonesia to acquire spheres of geopolitical influence, which presents the ostensibly neutral Indonesia with opportunities to play geopolitical rivals off against one another to derive short-term benefits. The longevity of such an approach for Indonesia, however, remains questionable. Indeed, granting China infrastructure contracts to placate its expansionist aspirations in the South China Sea - as is widely rumoured - does not decrease China’s presence in Indonesia and the Southeast Asian region per se. Indonesia’s longstanding foreign policy of non-alignment, however, means that if China’s expansionist aspirations are to be curbed, it might fall to Western countries to develop more comprehensive relationships with Indonesia, rather than expecting Indonesia to wind back its economic relationship with China.
Neighbouring China: Towards a relational approach to assessing and understanding the Chinese investments in Vietnam
Marie Gibert-Flutre Université Paris Cité
Tran Khac Minh Université du Québec
Van Hong Thi Ha Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences
Vietnam and China share a long and complex history of interrelations and oppositions. At times of rising Chinese investments in Southeast Asia, Vietnam keeps occupying a paradoxical situation. The goal of our presentation is then threefold: (1) Providing an unpreceded and up-to-date overview of the different forms of Chinese investment in Vietnam and their locations, (2) Enlightening the historical and geopolitical factors that govern these specific investments choices for both Chinese actors and Vietnam actors, (3) Discussing the specific place of Vietnam in the world of Chinese aid in Southeast Asia today. We draw our analysis on a relational approach to the China-Vietnam partnership by combining historical analysis of these interrelations with the investigation of recent case studies of cross-border Chinese investments in the industrial sector in the north of Vietnam. In doing so, our research seeks to contribute
to larger theoretical debates about the various forms of Chinese projection in Southeast Asia.
China’s outward foreign direct investment in Singapore
Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux Sciences Po and Centre Asie du Sud-Est
Muriel Périsse Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Singapore has been a key investment destination for Chinese firms ever since China started its bulky investment in the region. Like other foreign investors, Chinese firms invested mostly in Singapore’s high value-added manufacturing industries and services. The investment in this regional headquarter and financial center helps to internationalize Chinese firms. For Singapore, Chinese investment benefits Singapore’s economy as well especially during the pandemic crisis. This paper will examine China’s investment in Singapore from various angles, including Singapore and China’s respective investment policies, China’s investment profile in Singapore, cases studies of two Chinese firms in Singapore and implication for the regional political economy. This paper will contribute to the understanding of South-North investment as well as China’s power expansion through the growing investment in the most important economy in Southeast Asia.
Paving the way for investments? A fresh look at China’s foreign aid in Southeast Asia
Elsa Lafaye de Micheaux Centre Asie du Sud-Est
Xavier Delannay Sciences Po and Centre Asie du Sud-Est
Attempts to compare Chinese and western aid often fall short to capturing the full scope of the unique nature of the PRC’s practices in terms of ODA and investments. Indeed, both in terms of conceptualization, methods or measurements it is important to consider Chinese aid as distinct in the realm of foreign aid. Especially over the last decades and together with the country’s remarkable economic growth, China’s aid activity has grown at a very fast rate.
This proactivity in the field of aid is also part of China’s desire to assert itself as a new economic, political – and sometimes cultural – centre of gravity. Southeast Asia now seems to be a particularly conducive region to the development of Chinese aid in the region and shows observers the uniqueness of China’s practices.
In reviewing the principles, objectives and contemporary methods of Chinese aid in the region, the paper also seeks to account for the important communications between aid and investment in PRC practices in order to provide a fresh look at China’s foreign aid in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, in view of the existence of this “aid-investment nexus”, the question of aid as a prerequisite for investment in Southeast Asia is also raised.
The development of Sihanoukville under Chinese influence: toward a platform urbanization
Gabriel Fauveaud University of Montreal
Over the last decade, Sihanoukville (Cambodia’s main port) has welcomed a growing flow of Chinese investments in the industrial, tourism and real estate sectors, often combined with significant investments in transportation, port, and energy infrastructures. The influence of Chinese interests and actors in Cambodia has been strengthened by the launch of the Belt and Road initiative in 2013. These capital flows are also part of broader initiatives for the economic and infrastructural redevelopment of the Sihanoukville region involving Cambodian institutions, as well as a wide range of local and international actors and organizations. In this paper, we will show that Chinese investments and projects are shaped by a complex assemblage of financial flows, urban and economic models, political and economic partnerships, and a set of various technical and regulatory instruments. Taken together, these elements compose what we call a “platform urbanization”, which refers to a logic of territorial development based on the fast implementation of globalized urban models, and on a flexible and multi-sectoral project-based urbanism.
Trade Facilitation of Live Cattle Export to China from Myanmar, Thailand and Laos
Andrew Laitha Independent Researcher
Mana Southichack Intergro Co.
Manabu Fujimura Aoyama Gakuin University
Manoj Potapohn Chiang Mai University
Terdsak Yano Chiang Mai University
Trade in live cattle between China and her neighbors has been around before the current demarcation of nation states after the second World War. Trade flow, in the past decade, has reversed from China being an exporting country to importing country, due to a sustained rise in per capita income and rising scarcity of grazing land in the past four decades. The nature of this trade was informal, with cattle walking from Myanmar through jungles in rebel-controlled areas to the market at the Myanmar-Thailand border. During the Aug San Suu Kyi led NLD government, Myanmar did an experiment with livestock department taking over the mandate to control animal movements domestically, enforce export licensing, and facilitate direct shipment to the Chinese border instead of transporting through Thailand and Laos as has been long practiced. The experiment has resulted in a rapid rise of export volume to an unsustainable level. Then, a pause was introduced to allow the livestock department to work on export sustainability and disease control needed to reciprocate China’s regulatory requirements. However, COVID-19 and the military takeover in 2021 have made border closure at the Myanmar-China trade route more permanent. Meanwhile, the supposedly transit countries of Thailand and Laos, with more politically stable situation at border areas, are actively promoting cattle production of improved breed and developing disease control capacity primarily intending to supply China. Thailand leans on its veterinary services while Laos is keenly interested in making use of generous export quota given by Chinese government to attract foreign investment for cattle farming.
Scholar works investigating relations between China and Southeast Asia are undertaking an important renewal since the rising international power of China and the adoption of the Belt and Road Initiative. The papers gathered in these panels will shed light on different processes and materializations of Chinese investments and development aid in Southeast Asia. Wishing to provide cross-cutting and multidisciplinary analysis of what we name the “Chinese projection” abroad, the contributions will explore the circulation and landing of China’s projects and capital in Southeast Asian countries, as well as the mechanisms of negotiation and partnership that shape them. By defending the importance of empirical and contextual approaches, we wish to contribute to the analysis of the role of Chinese actors and capital flows in the evolution of the regional politico-economic environment and in the transformation of territorial dynamics