Browse our analysis section for news and articles on topics such as China's Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR), the world's evolving digital infrastructure competition, and the stakes for U.S. policy.
15 Asia-Pacific countries, including China, Japan, and all 10 ASEAN states, have signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pact, which creates common rules and standards for cross-border investment, e-commerce, and trade, Nikkei reports.
A notorious ex-gangster from China is launching an $18 billion economic development zone in Myawaddy, Myanmar under the banner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But experts say the project's plans are centered on illegal gambling. If true, this could spell trouble for Beijing.
Malaysian prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin has proposed a $3.6 billion infrastructure development plan as part of the government's new budget intended to stimulate the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nikkei reports.
This paper discusses the geopolitical dynamics of the Indo-Pacific, including the impacts of Covid-19, and emerging foreign policy initiatives, and offers recommendations for how Japan can solidify a comprehensive leadership role in this critical, multipolar region.
The U.S. is hosting Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto for a five-day trip to Washington, despite a long-standing ban over suspected human rights violations, following calls by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to build an alliance of like-minded democracies to balance against China. The visit comes amid rising Chinese investment in strategic projects in Indonesia, Nikkei reports.
On September 29, CSIS hosted an online discussion of Jonathan Hillman's new book on China's Belt and Road Initiative, The Emperor’s New Road: China and the Project of the Century, moderated by Axios China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian.
Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga plans to visit Vietnam and Indonesia in mid-October to strengthen ties with ASEAN and curb China's regional ambitions, a move seen as a continuation of former Prime Minister Abe's policies on prioritizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.
A state-owned Chinese construction company has been awarded a contract for the Manila metro in spite of U.S. efforts to sanction Chinese SOEs for construction in the South China Sea, Nikkei reports.
Cambodia has announced plans to instate a China-style internet gateway which activists fear could allow the government to block critical content, Nikkei reports.
The U.S. has blacklisted one of the Belt and Road Initiative's largest construction companies, the Chinese state-owned enterprise China Communications Construction Co. (CCCC), and its subsidiaries for its role in building artificial islands in the contested waters of the South China Sea, Nikkei reports.
Thailand's largest mobile operator has set aside $1.4 billion for 5G infrastructure in the country's Eastern Economic Corridor, a signature government initiative expected to diversify and drive the nation's economy in the years ahead.
Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to commence construction of a light-rail connection in early 2021, reviving a project that was delayed by Mahathir Mohamad's former government over cost concerns, Nikkei reports.
The Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved a $100 million loan to a Hanoi-based commercial bank, its first commitment to a Vietnamese bank, Nikkei reports.
Construction of Vietnam's $900 million China-built railway line in Hanoi, Vietnam's first metro line, has been substantially delayed by disagreements between the Vietnamese government and the Chinese company on the project, Nikkei reports.
Investment in renewable energy in Southeast Asia is holding up despite the economic pressure of the coronavirus pandemic, with many business buyers seizing chances to lock in low-cost power supplies for the long term, Nikkei reports.
The Asian Development Bank announced that the region is only expected to grow by 0.1 percent this year, the slowest rate since 1961 and a further deterioration from the 2.2 percent projection in April following the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nikkei reports.
The coronavirus pandemic could have serious impacts on economic growth in Laos, which is already struggling due to significant debt taken on to finance a large range of Chinese-backed infrastructure projects, Nikkei reports.
China's Belt and Road infrastructure projects in Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia have come to a standstill as countries prioritize fighting COVID-19, Nikkei reports.
Bangkok's railway is set to double to approximately 300 km in 2023, Thailand hopes that this development will ease traffic and help achieve sustainable, high-quality economic growth, Nikkei reports.
As the coronavirus necessitates greater emphasis on cooperation between the U.S. and China, some experts worry that Washington’s decision to postpone the U.S.-ASEAN summit following a period of perceived disengagement risks pushing Southeast Asian countries further toward China and delays discussions on critical topics, including the U.S. rival to the BRI, Nikkei reports.
Chinese-funded projects along the Mekong River are increasingly facing pushback from governments and environmentalists in the region as water levels drop due to drought and the construction of large dams. In an attempt to address these concerns, Vietnam plans to add the Mekong River to ASEAN's agenda this year, Nikkei reports.
Chinese companies are constructing new factories in Southeast Asia in an effort to avoid U.S. tariffs, with Chinese direct investment in Thailand increasing fivefold in 2019.
Chinese president Xi Jinping's visit to Myanmar is expected to coincide with the announcement of the Belt and Road projects there, despite waning popularity of the initiative due to mounting debt levels, Nikkei reports.
In a recent survey by the ISEAS-Yusof Institute, 79 percent of ASEAN experts surveyed think that China is the most influential economic power in the region, but the majority are not confident in the Belt and Road Initiative, Nikkei reports.
Malaysia's AirAsia Group says it will co-found a tech training facility with California-based Google, as it pushes to become a technology-led company, Nikkei writes.
Chinese fintech companies with established expertise in digital payments are hoping to escape stiff competition at home by expanding into Southeast Asia, where the digital economy is expected to triple in size over the next five years, Nikkei reports.
During the second annual CSIS Ocean Security Forum on January 7, 2020, a panel of experts discussed the implications of China's port investments along its Maritime Silk Road on regional ocean sustainability, sovereignty, and security. Watch the full discussion below.
Laos has approved 14 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) backed by Bejing as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative in a bid to boost the economy, however, many observers are concerned about the country's mounting debt to China, Nikkei reports.
According to Fitch Solutions, Tokyo-backed projects in Southeast Asia have topped $367 billion, outspending China and making Japan the top provider of infrastructure and development aid in the region, Nikkei reports.
Indonesia is in talks with Japan and the U.S. to establish a sovereign wealth fund for infrastructure and other development projects. The fund will help cover the estimated $33 billion needed to develop the country's new capital in East Kalimantan, Nikkei reports.
As the U.S.-China trade war drives Chinese enterprises and other companies to relocate, Southeast Asian countries are constructing industrial parks and using tax incentives to attract manufacturers. As a result, Chinese corporate investment in Thailand is expected to increase by 30 percent this year, and foreign direct investment in Malaysia roughly doubled, Nikkei reports.
Huawei Technologies is lobbying to build Thailand's 5G network in order to strengthen its foothold in Southeast Asia. Thailand's economy is the second-largest in the region and important to Huawei, in order to secure a deal they have ramped up the offer to include building a tech training center in Bangkok, Nikkei reports.
Philippines' President Duterte has shelved a number of megaprojects, including two Chinese-financed deals, under his "Build, Build, Build" program due to feasibility concerns. Instead, the government hopes to pursue public-private-partnerships to fund Duterte's multi-billion-dollar infrastructure program.
U.S. officials announced the launch of the "Blue Dot Network" at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in collaboration with Japan and Australia. The network will help the U.S. counter China's Belt and Road Initiative by advancing quality infrastructure investment.
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) has purchased a 45 percent stake in the 117 kilometer-long Cikopo-Plimanan Toll Road project, highlighting CPPIB's commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, Nikkei reports.
Many Asian cities, such as Jakarta and Bangkok, are threatened by rising sea levels. Unless delayed water infrastructure projects are accelerated, large sections of these cities will be underwater in the near future, Nikkei reports.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo has announced the location of Indonesia's new capital in East Kalimantan Province, the Indonesian part of Borneo island, amid concerns about mounting pollution and traffic congestion in Jakarta. Widodo has said that the capital will be green, with the latest ICT and smart city technology, however the nation remains divided over whether the costly relocation is necessary, Nikkei reports.
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese president Xi Jinping plan to sign deals for infrastructure and funding support from China's Belt and Road Initiative during Duterte's visit to Beijing this week, Nikkei reports.
Southeast Asia is proving to be a hotbed for China's Belt and Road Initiative according to two new reports, with Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, and Vietnam topping the list of countries with the most contracts and investment out of an estimated $11 billion in the region overall in the first half of 2019, Nikkei reports.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo has formally proposed to move the country's capital to Borneo. However, critics question the feasibility of developing a new capital city while the country simultaneously pursues Widodo's signature $400 billion infrastructure plan, which centers mainly in Java, Nikkei reports.
Malaysia has relaunched the East Coast Rail Link after re-negotiations with China led to The Export Import Bank of China backing 85% of the cost. The project price is now $11 billion, a third of the original expected amount, reports Nikkei.
A senior Pentagon official has suggested that China may be developing a military presence at Ream naval base in Cambodia, raising concerns that the port and other investments related to China's Belt and Road Initiative could create potential military advantages, Nikkei reports.
Foreign investment, led by China, in transportation and telecommunications quadrupled to $1 billion in the last six months as Myanmar approved a number of infrastructure projects, Nikkei reports.
Japan will announce a new plan for Mynamar's Dawei special economic zone that focuses on building a port that will export to India. The proposal comes as China is building and financing Kyaukphyu port, increasing its economic influence in the country, reports Nikkei.
Cambodia's real estate sector is facing scrutiny after a construction project being developed under China's Belt and Road Initiative collapsed. The Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that an investigation will take place, but denied allegations linking the tragedy to heavy Chinese investment and ongoing corruption, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
BRI 2.0 represents an opportunity for Southeast Asia to enter the next phase of growth. China's commitment to transparency could usher a new era of partnerships that benefit multiple parties, writes David Liao for Nikkei Asian Review.
Cambodia and other nations across Southeast Asia are emerging as vital staging grounds for a new form of power struggle between China and its rivals. The growth of Beijing's vast Belt and Road Initiative since 2013 has galvanized the U.S. and its allies -- including Japan, India and Australia -- and prompted them to draw up infrastructure and security programs of their own, writes Gwen Robinson for the Nikkei Asian Review