The 15th China Talk
Understanding China’s Role in Contemporary Southeast Asia
In the Southeast Asian region, China, on the one hand, is the largest trading partner for most Asean countries. However, on the other hand, China is considered as the biggest challenge for ASEAN countries in relation to security, including but not limited to the South China Sea’s disputes, Mekong water’s sources, etc… China’s assertiveness affected not only ASEAN countries, but also peace and stability in the entire region.
This Covid time again proves the dependence of the world to China, from foods, medicines to Chinese tourists, raw materials, etc… Southeast Asian countries are among top affected since China is their biggest export market as well as the raw material importing. In other words, Southeast Asian countries are in the horns of a dilemma: they want to have bigger voice against China in security related issues but while still rely too much on China economically.
The topic made by Prof. Hiebert was captured from his latest book published in August 2020 - Under Beijing's Shadow: Southeast Asia's China Challenge – which provides a snapshot of ten countries in Southeast Asia by exploring their diverse experiences with China and how this impacts their perceptions of Beijing’s actions and its long-term political, economic, military, and “soft power” goals in the region.
Commentators from the talk also shared the view by determining that it is impossible to have a general theoretical framework [in relation with China] that apply for all ASEAN countries since they are very diverse. Loving and hating are in parallel and that national interest of each country will drive their strategy toward China./.