The leaders of Japan and five Southeast Asian countries agreed to adopt a new policy that pushes forward more than 150 projects in the Mekong region using official development assistance from Japan.
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Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have announced the The Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Fund. The fund aims to help Southeast Asia become more financially self-reliant and reduce its dependence on external economic and political giants, particularly China.
Read the full article [here](https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Southeast-Asian-fund-can-complement-Chinese-investment-by
Chinese infrastructure investment throughout Southeast Asia has shifted the tide of opinion, simultaneously supporting authoritarian politics in certain states and engendering opposition to Belt and Road in others, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
Cambodians remain wary of Chinese infrastructure investment due to China’s growing influence in the country.
Five nations that share the Mekong River: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam adopted a five-year master development plan during the 2018 ACMECS summit in Bangkok. The plan vowed to upgrade roads, power grids, and other pieces of infrastructure that connect and strengthen the region.
Cambodia is set to complete an ambitious rail project next week from Poipet to Phnom Penh, connecting the country from North to South for the first time in 45 years. However, substantial Chinese involvement in the project has raised concerns over high levels of debt owed to China, which some estimates place as high as $4 billion, or 20 percent of Cambodia's GDP.
Even if Belt and Road investment declines in the future, whether for political or economic reasons, the influence of Chinese constructors and planners on regional markets will continue to be apparent, from the alignment of high-speed railways in Indonesia to the design of residential and commercial developments in city centers.
A close look at the characteristics of China's port projects in the Indo-Pacific suggests that rather than resulting in "win-win" economic prosperity, they are generating political leverage, increasing Beijing’s military presence, and reshaping the strategic operating environment in China’s favor.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes all ten ASEAN leaders to New Dehli in an attempt to strengthen trade and connectivity with the bloc.
Cambodia and China signed 19 aid and investment pacts on Thursday including deals for several infrastructure projects.