Although Southeast Asian states emphasise the centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in regional relations, one might ask whether Southeast Asia’s fate isn’t already determined by its neighbour, China. Should the oft-cited “Rise of China” become a reality (if it has not already done so), it may be assumed that this will be reflected first and most visibly in the immediate periphery.
Since the early 1990s, Beijing has been striving to improve relations with ASEAN and its member states. These efforts have intensified during the past decade with a 'charm offensive', first manifesting concretely in the establishment of the China-ASEAN free trade zone in 2010. In 2013, Xi Jinping announced the launching of the 'Silk Road Economic Belt' and the '21st Century Maritime Silk Road'. With an overall investment of more than a quadrillion USD, China plans the biggest infrastructure project in history which will integrate all of Eurasia along a gigantic economic corridor. One of the main beneficiaries of this infrastructural development and connectivity would be Southeast Asia, but some ASEAN states, Vietnam and the Philippines in particular, are involved in fierce disputes with China over sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.
This seminar presents a differentiated picture of China´s influence in Southeast Asia, following the hypothesis that – despite China’s clear efforts to achieve hegemony – a Pax Sinica has not (yet) emerged in the region.
Jörn Dosch is a professor of International Politics and Development Cooperation at the University of Rostock, Germany. His previous positions include Professor of International Relations and Head of the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Monash University (Malaysia Campus) and Head of the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Leeds. His research focuses on Southeast Asian politics and international relations as well as Europe-Asia relations. Prof. Dosch also regularly works as a consultant for the European Union’s development programme with Asia and has evaluated several donor-funded projects in support of ASEAN. His recent publications include "Die ASEAN Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft (The ASEAN Economic Community), Nomos 2016.