Australia preparing to spend up in south-east Asia to counter Beijing: sources

 Australia is preparing to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into south-east Asian countries to help turbocharge their economies in a direct challenge to China's growing influence in the region. The post-coronavirus package will include measures to counter China's Mekong River dam-building exercises, which last year exacerbated a severe drought in countries downstream.

Infrastructural Power, Hong Kong, and Global China

On September 23, 2018 the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link officially opened—linking Mainland China to downtown Hong Kong by high-speed rail. This $11 billion project, built over nearly 9 years, did more than facilitate travel. It also brought Chinese territorial sovereignty right into Kowloon. Now, there is a new Chinese border inside the wave-like steel folds of the gleaming station, where travelers are subject to Chinese laws.

Asia’s Future Beyond U.S.-China Competition

Asia is changing dramatically, but the region’s two most significant powers are losing the plot. China and the United States are racing to the bottom—refracting issues from trade rules to data access and transfers to the development of a coronavirus vaccine through the prism of their own geopolitical competition. The pandemic has only deepened this dynamic, as the two countries hurl insults at each other and trade charges of culpability.

Call for Submission: ICAS Book Prize for Best Article on Global Hong Kong Studies

ICAS (International Convention of Asia Scholars) is extremely proud to welcome, together with organiser and sponsor the Society for Hong Kong Studies (SHKS), the newest addition to the ICAS Book Prize fmaily: the IBP for Best Article on Global Hong Kong Studies

Returning to the Shadows: China, Pakistan, and the Fate of CPEC

The troubles faced by the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—the flagship of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—are perhaps the most conclusive demonstration that the BRI model that has been in place for the last few years is no longer sustainable. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, CPEC had stalled. Not only are the figures commonly cited for the total package of projects under this framework since its launch in 2015—which run as high as $62 billion—no longer accurate, investments of that magnitude are not under consideration either. The projects that are already underway or that have been completed are far from negligible, however. CPEC represents a marked expansion of China’s economic presence in Pakistan, with approximately $25 billion in investments to date—but this is already pushing close to the framework’s limits rather than the foundations of a more ambitious plan.  

The China-Laos railway: a way out of poverty or a white elephant in waiting?

Critics of the Belt and Road Initiative rail link through Laos from China point to its devastating environmental impact and potential economic ruin for an already fragile economy. Others hope it can take Laos from landlocked to ‘land-linked’  

China, COVID-19, and Developing Country Debt

The COVID-19 pandemic has put enormous stress on many of the world’s government budgets. The world’s poorest countries in particular are often not in a position to spend resources fighting the pandemic and repay their debts at the same time. China is the world’s largest bilateral lender, so how it negotiates with borrowers in distress has significant bearing on borrowers’ ability to recover.

Partnering for Overseas Development: International NGOs’ Changing Engagement with China

Wendy Leutert, Elizabeth Plantan, and Austin Strange explain how international NGOs are working with Chinese state-owned companies on development projects outside of China. Two parallel trends within the field of international development are converging. The first is the rise of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as dominant players in the global infrastructure market, supported by Chinese development finance. Between 2000 and 2014, a sprawling network of Chinese government ministries, provincial governments, and policy banks supplied over $350 billion in official financing. Combining construction capability with ready financing, Chinese SOEs have implemented thousands of infrastructure projects overseas. Beyond Chinese-financed projects, SOEs are diversifying their portfolios and financing by actively bidding on infrastructure projects funded by national governments, foreign commercial and development banks, and private companies....

Indonesia begins to embrace China’s yuan as trade and belt and road projects fuel uptake

An estimated US$2.7 billion’s worth of the country’s international trade was paid for using China’s currency in the first six months of this year China has emerged as Indonesia’s largest trading partner over the past decade and is its second-biggest source of foreign direct investment

China working with Azerbaijan on belt and road transport route even as Baku restricts investment

China has used Azerbaijan’s ongoing bilateral negotiations on its World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership to open up access for belt and road projects The main project involving Azerbaijan is the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, a land transport network stretching from China and Southeast Asia to Europe