Politics and International Relations
Within the last three decades, China has experienced robust economic growth and transformed itself into a major player not only within the Asian sub-region, but across the globe. Within South and Southeast Asia, China has established formidable economic cooperation arrangements including ASEAN Plus China (10 + 1), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation (GMS). More recently, China has deepened its economic reach at regional and global levels through the ambitious “One Belt, One Road” initiative which involves massive infrastructural projects such as high speed railways, road construction, and maritime ports connecting Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe; and the new Silk Road that will connect Central Asia, Russia and Europe. These projects will link regions that account for 60% of the world’s population and 30% of global trade. The Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) with an initial membership of 57 countries and headquarters in Beijing, China, is the designated financial institution that will drive these projects, rather than the existing Western dominated financial architecture – World Bank and the IMF. Furthermore, to reinforce its global reach in emerging markets, China is a key member in the BRICS; and in several African countries, it has established “Special Economic Zones” to facilitate commerce and extraction of strategic mineral resources. Although some scholars contend that the rise of China in the neoliberal order, dominated by US hegemony, might lead to fundamental transformation into multipolar global order; others argue that the rise of China may only replicate another imperial moment that could be detrimental, especially for the Global South. Developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, in particular, may be vulnerable. Thus, the primary focus of this panel is to critically interrogate the rise of China not only within Asia in particular, but also across the global south and identify the implications for the populace in these peripheral regions.