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.
Browse our analysis section for news and articles on topics such as China's Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR), the Competing Visions of Japan, India, and other regional powers, and the stakes for U.S. policy.
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
Cambodian state-owned telecommunications companies have teamed up with China's Huawei to roll out a 5G network in 2020. However, experts say it could be years before 5G reaches ordinary Cambodians due to the scale of investment needed and the high cost of 5G handsets, reports Nikkei.
Beijing is striking a conciliatory tone abroad to repair ties with Belt and Road partners, particularly in Southeast Asia where negotiations with Chinese companies over halted infrastructure projects are restarting, Nikkei reports.
Thailand's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Laos and China to accelerate the construction of a much delayed high-speed rail line between northeast Thailand and Vientiane in Laos, reports Nikkei.
China Communications Construction Co. executives on Wednesday reiterated the infrastructure company has not given up on the multibillion-dollar East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia, on which development work has been suspended for months amid doubts over the project's financial viability, reports Nikkei.
As Singapore's population grows, the city-state's Urban Redevelopment Authority has announced a plan to expand its urban infrastructure underground. Singapore's geographic constraints demand creative thinking from its government about how to further build out its infrastructure, reports Nikkei.
Thailand's government will invest $2.78 billion in Laem Chabang port, the core of Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor. The Thai government hopes to position the deep-water port to compete with Singapore and Hong Kong, reports Nikkei.
Southeast Asian nations are investing in their urban rail infrastructure to ease road congestion impeding their further economic growth. In Hanoi, road congestion costs Vietnam as much as $1.2 billion in 2018, reports Nikkei.
Thailand and Vietnam have announced plans to start 5G services as early as 2020. The Southeast Asian nations are scrambling to introduce 5G networks, determined not to fall behind developed nations, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
While on a state visit to the Philippines, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad told journalists that if countries borrow money from China they cannot pay back, the country "may be under the control of the lender." The statement was read as a warning to Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, who accepted a $9 billion credit line from China in 2016, reports Nikkei.
Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader, convened a forum for foreign businesses in the impoverished Rakhine State, urging attendees to invest in infrastructure throughout the country's rural areas. With national elections in 2020, Suu Kyi has been touring outlying regions in Myanmar promising development initiatives to shore up support for her ruling party, reports Nikkei.
Southeast Asia’s strategic importance for China, the United States, Japan, and others, and the advantages that will come with control over data flows, mean that the region’s decisions on digital infrastructure and internet governance will have implications that far transcend business outcomes.
Huawei's Vietnam chief says the company has received assurances from the country's communications minister that Vietnam remains "open" to Huawei's 5G technology. This comes on the heels of European countries announcing they will reconsider telecommunications partnerships with Huawei due to information security concerns.
The trial of Najib Razak, Malaysia's former prime minister, over corruption-related charges tied to the 1MDB development fund is scheduled to begin on February 12. The prosecution is expected to probe whether China-backed infrastructure projects signed by Najib's government were used to bail out 1MDB, reports Nikkei.
Vietnam's government has re-introduced a previously rejected plan for a high-speed railway that would connect the country's north and south. Under the current proposal, the government would cover 80% of the project's cost, fueling concern that funding the railway would be irresponsible.
China Three Gorges Corp, operator of the world's largest hydropower plant, is turning to projects offshore as domestic costs soar and space runs out on China's crowded rivers. The company, which already has business in more than 40 countries, will focus mostly on South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
In an effort to provide an alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative, Japan will help build "smart cities" across Southeast Asia, using artificial intelligence and networked devices to tackle problems like road congestion and energy conservation, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Thailand will spend more than $25 billion to build a high-speed rail network in a bid to transform the country into a regional rail hub. The Bang Sue Grand Station in Bangkok, when completed in 2020, is expected be Southeast Asia's biggest station with a capacity of serving 400,000 passengers daily.
Japan's Kawasaki Heavy Industries has created a floating, gas-fired power plant that it hopes to sell to power companies in rapidly growing economies in Asia and as an emergency source of power in areas hit by natural disasters where infrastructure remains underdeveloped, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Laos is accepting more Chinese loans to build 50 hydropower dams by 2025 and is increasing its external debt, half of which is owed to China.
The China Road Project, a team of researchers interested in China’s role in global development, will be traveling 60,000 kilometers over land and sea to investigate China's Belt and Road initiative (BRI), a foreign policy concept and global infrastructure plan announced by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013, to help close the information gap and shine a light on the multi-trillion dollar initiative.