In so many ways, China’s strategies for its involvement in Southeast Asia are much more pragmatic, more predictable, and considerably less nefarious than any other rising global power that previous laid sight on region. Moreover, those strategies, born in the 1990s, make even more economic sense now than at the time of their inception due to the current needs of its development trajectory.
Energy consumption and the speed of urbanization in China are rising at ever-increasing rates. To keep pace, the central government must secure energy resources and safe, low-cost agricultural goods. Southeast Asian states, in a complementary fashion, have robust food export markets, as in the case of Thailand or Malaysia, or as in Laos and Myanmar, have abundant endowments of energy resources. Chinese state owned enterprises and private business interests seek to access and integrate into these markets and new infrastructure linkages such as highways and high-speed railways are indicators of deeper market integration abroad. Continue reading