torsdag 29. desember 2022

How Well Is China Advancing Its Interests in Southeast Asia?

Xi Jinping traveled to Southeast Asia last month to attend the G20 summit in Bali before moving on to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ meeting in Bangkok. The meetings came on the heels of Premier Li Keqiang’s appearance at the ASEAN summit, where he repeatedly underscored the “shared future” of Southeast Asia and China. But what does that shared future look like? For 13 years, China has been Southeast Asia’s largest trading partner. Chinese roads, Chinese factories, and Chinese infrastructure projects have spread across the region.

In early November, China and Vietnam signed 13 deals, following a trip to Beijing by the Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary—the first foreign leader to visit after Xi secured his historic third term. Last year, the inaugural section of a $6 billion Laos-China rail opened in the impoverished nation. In Cambodia, China’s “help” in upgrading a strategically located naval base has generated years of speculation on Beijing’s motivation.

As China continues to grow its role in the region, how well is Beijing advancing its interests and what and where do its interests diverge most acutely from those of China’s neighbors?