In China's Backyard: Policies and Politics of Chinese Resource Investments in Southeast Asia

In China's Backyard: Policies and Politics of Chinese Resource Investments in Southeast Asia
Date of publication:  2017
Publisher:  ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
Number of pages:  332
Code:  PIC249
Soft Cover
ISBN: 9789814786096
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Andrew Jia Yi Kam, Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, 2019.

"This book addresses the rise of China in Southeast Asia from a resource lens (p.3). It is a comprehensive book that examines a prolonged puzzle: in the words of Ian Coxhead (2007) a decade ago" '...will continuing globalization ... render the region's most resource-abundant economies [in Southeast Asia] once again vulnerable?' The 12 chapters of the book provided excellent discourses on the impact of China's monstrous investment appetite for foreign natural resources on the economy, society, and good-will of Southeast Asian countries. The introductory chapter is masterfully crafted by the editor, Jason Morris-Jung, offering a set of expectations for readers such as '...resource conflict is rarely just about resources', which says it all. 

The unbiased analyses on the issues and challenges in the relationships with no protagonists, hero, or villain, make this book a gem for scholars. As Alvin A. Camba (Chapter 6) elegantly puts it, 'On one hand, it would be a mistake to see Chinese firms as necessarily more benign actors that enable local development. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to simply paint Chinese investments as exploiters.' This is the most common tone throughout the book. Investment can be an instrument for development as it empowers communities with employment and access to new infrastructure. However, it can also be labelled as 'exploitation' if spillovers from investment activities have negative implications - that is, on the environment, or used as a tool for political leverage in empowering the corrupt."

About the publication

"In this fascinating multi-disciplinary and multi-sited volume, the authors challenge reductionist and oversimplifying approaches to understanding China's engagement with Southeast Asia. Productively viewing these interactions through a 'resource lens', the editor has transcended disciplinary and area studies divides in order to assemble a dynamic and diverse group of scholars with extensive experience across Southeast Asia and in China, all while bringing together perspectives from resource economics, policy analysis, international relations, human geography, political ecology, history, sociology and anthropology. The result is an important collection that not only offers empirically detailed studies of Chinese energy and resource investments in Southeast Asia, but which attends to the complex and often ambivalent ways in which such investments have become both a source of anxiety and aspiration for different stakeholders in the region. It is essential reading for scholars seeking to understand the diverse contours of Chinese investment in Southeast Asia"
— Erik Harms, Department of Anthropology, Yale University

"How have large-scale resource deals between China and the countries of Southeast Asia come to rest in places and peoples lives? This is the question that animates this important book, complicating what is often seen in stark, binary terms. There is no simple answer, as the contributions make all too clear. Local histories and geographies, socio-cultural contexts and national policies all require an excavation of shaping factors and conditions if a semblance of explanation is to be rendered. This book helps us in that process of getting beneath the surface." 
— Jonathan Rigg, Director, Asia Research Institute and Raffles Professor of Social Science, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore


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