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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 26, 2019

Chinese Geopolitics in Southeast Asia: A New Pattern of Economic Power within ASEAN?

Ralph Michael Wrobel EMAIL logo

Abstract

Southeast Asia is of highest geostrategic interest for China as a rising Great Power as well as for the U.S. and its ally Japan. Since the “Pivot to East Asia” of the Obama administration in Washington in 2011 observers are discussing a “New Great Game” in the region. But has China already established a “backyard” by its economic activities in Southeast Asia and in particular in ASEAN countries? What is the spatial pattern of China’s activities? As an analysis of FDI stocks as well as trade related data show ASEAN countries can be divided into several groups. (1) China’s small neighbour Laos dominated by Chinese FDI. (2) Countries like Cambodia and Myanmar partly dominated by Chinese FDI. (3) Countries with different trade ties to China but mostly strong military or diplomatic ties to the U.S. like Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and (4) the independent Brunei Darussalam. Therefore, Southeast Asia and in particular ASEAN cannot be called a Chinese “backyard” yet. But if U.S. president Trump withdraws the U.S. attention from the region China could be able to achieve a hegemonic position in the region soon.

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Published Online: 2019-01-26
Published in Print: 2019-03-26

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