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This volume presents a contemporary analysis of the impact of China's rise on the Mekong Region at a critical period of Southeast Asian history. As the most populated country and the second largest economy in the world, China has become an increasingly influential player in global and regional affairs in recent decades. Economic ties between China and her southern neighbors are particularly strong. Yet relations between China and the Mekong region are embedded in complex socio-cultural and political issues. China's accelerated growth, increasing economic footprint, rapid military modernization, and global search for energy, natural resources, and food security have created a wide range of new challenges for smaller countries in Southeast Asia. These new challenges both encourage and limit cooperation between China and the emerging ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Authors pay close attention to these challenges with particular focus on the impact of Chinese investment, trade, foreign aid, and migration.
This book presents a contemporary analysis of the impact of China's rise on the Mekong Region with particular focus on the consequences stemming from investment, trade, foreign aid, and migration.
Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, and the ushering in of an era of global economic relations, the United States and Europe have been the core poles of economic power. However, China along with India are increasingly challenging the traditional economic hegemony. An issue of great importance is how this shift in the global economic balance of power will affect developing economies and the transition economies of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), which are located in China's backyard and deeply integrated into its economy through regional supply chains. This volume examines the relationship between transition economies and the rise of China through presenting empirical case studies from the GMS. In doing so, it offers insights into the effect of China on developing countries in general, and offers practical policy directions for the place-specific economies of the GMS.
​This Brief provides a cross-sectional analysis of development-directed investments in the wider Mekong region. The wider Mekong region includes Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, and the Chinese province of Yunnan. Evidence highlights that a few critical dynamics, including human migration, natural resource flows, and financial investments, generate a high level of connectivity between these countries. Such high levels of connectivity increase complexity and the potential for ripple effects of national decisions. The emerging links between countries can unfold in financial investments, migration, or the flow of resources. As these links intensify the regional connectivity increases and over time a highly connected region can emerge, as experienced by the Mekong region.​ This Brief also contains a chapter at the end of the book featuring numerous charts and diagrams further illustrating the impact of development activities in the area.
In Southeast Asia, China’s growing economic and political strength has been accompanied by adept diplomacy and active promotion of regional cooperation, institutions and integration. Southeast Asian states and China engage in ‘strategic regionalism’: they seek regional membership for regime legitimation and collective bargaining; and regional integration to enhance economic development, regarded as essential for ensuring national and regime security. Sino-Southeast Asian regionalism is exemplified by the development plans for the Mekong River basin, where ambitious projects for building regional infrastructural linkages and trade contribute to mediating the security concerns of the Mekong countries. However, Mekong regionalism also generates new insecurities. Developing the resources of the Mekong has led to serious challenges in terms of governance, distribution and economic externalities. Resource-allocation and exploitation conflicts occur most obviously within the realm of water projects, especially hydropower development programmes. While such disputes are not likely to erupt into armed conflict because of the power asymmetry between China and the lower Mekong states, they exacerbate Southeast Asian concerns about China’s rise and undermine Chinese rhetoric about peaceful development. But the negative security consequences of developing the Mekong are also due to the shared economic imperative, and the Southeast Asian states’ own difficulties with collective action due to existing intramural conflicts.
Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, and the ushering in of an era of global economic relations, the United States and Europe have been the core poles of economic power. However, China along with India are increasingly challenging the traditional economic hegemony. An issue of great importance is how this shift in the global economic balance of power will affect developing economies and the transition economies of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), which are located in China's backyard and deeply integrated into its economy through regional supply chains. This volume examines the relationship between transition economies and the rise of China through presenting empirical case studies from the GMS. In doing so, it offers insights into the effect of China on developing countries in general, and offers practical policy directions for the place-specific economies of the GMS.
In Southeast Asia, China's growing economic and political strength has been accompanied by adept diplomacy and active promotion of regional cooperation, institutions and integration. Southeast Asian states and China engage in 'strategic regionalism': they seek regional membership for regime legitimation and collective bargaining; and regional integration to enhance economic development, regarded as essential for ensuring national and regime security. Sino-Southeast Asian regionalism is exemplified by the development plans for the Mekong River basin, where ambitious projects for building regional infrastructural linkages and trade contribute to mediating the security concerns of the Mekong countries. However, Mekong regionalism also generates new insecurities. Developing the resources of the Mekong has led to serious challenges in terms of governance, distribution and economic externalities. Resource-allocation and exploitation conflicts occur most obviously within the realm of water projects, especially hydropower development programmes. While such disputes are not likely to erupt into armed conflict because of the power asymmetry between China and the lower Mekong states, they exacerbate Southeast Asian concerns about China's rise and undermine Chinese rhetoric about peaceful development. But the negative security consequences of developing the Mekong are also due to the shared economic imperative, and the Southeast Asian states' own difficulties with collective action due to existing intramural conflicts.

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