The Countries of Southeast Asia and The Chinese Initiative Belt and Road: A Model of Interaction

 
PIIS013122270017935-9-1
DOI10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-10-91-102
Publication type Article
Status Published
Authors
Affiliation: Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO)
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameMirovaia ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia
EditionVolume 65 Issue 10
Pages91-102
Abstract

The choice of the countries of Southeast Asia as an example for analyzing the nature of interaction between developing countries and China within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative is not accidental. The very logic of China's stated goals of gaining dominant positions in the world economy and politics makes it inevitable that the countries of Southeast Asia located in geographic proximity to it are included in its long-term economic and political plans. The question, however, is to what extent do they meet the interests of the Southeast Asian countries themselves? The solution to this question is the main subject of research in the article. There are objective prerequisites for mutually beneficial cooperation. The Belt and Road projects are viewed by China as a tool for economic expansion into the region with the prospect of taking a leading position there, using the interest of Southeast Asian countries in the inflow of foreign investment to create modern infrastructure, the lack of which narrows their opportunities for further economic growth, maintaining competitiveness and developing integration ties within ASEAN Community. Expert assessments made by international organizations confirm the positive impact of OBOR projects on the economic development of Southeast Asian countries and although today it is too early to draw any conclusions, since the initiative is only at the initial stage of its implementation in the region, nevertheless the case studies presented in the article indicate a mismatch in the positions of the parties on a number of issues related to the financing of projects, their lack of transparency. non-compliance with environmental and social requirements. The support of the initiative on the part of the Southeast Asian countries does not automatically mean their acceptance of the terms of the agreements proposed by China, which are far from always consistent with their national interests and give rise to fears in society about its expansionist intentions. Therefore, in many Southeast Asian countries, participation in OBOR projects is turning into a subject of political discourse, which reflects the presence of disagreements in society and confrontation of interests regarding the advisability of rapprochement with China, given the associated economic and political risks. The countries of Southeast Asia can be conditionally divided into two groups according to their relation to the Belt and Road initiative. The first group includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar, whose position can be described as national pragmatism. While supporting the Chinese initiative in general, they nevertheless assess the possible risks of their participation in projects and seek to reduce them. The second group is represented by Laos and Cambodia, whose leadership unconditionally supports the Chinese initiative, guided by the interests of their own survival, which largely depends on Chinese assistance. Therefore, the prospect of falling into a debt trap and increasing economic dependence on the PRC and even the threat of losing sovereignty does not deter them from participating in highly controversial projects from a commercial point of view. Based on the analysis made, the author comes to the conclusion that, given the existing alignment of political forces in Southeast Asia, China can count on promoting its initiative in the region, which, however, does not automatically lead to an increase in its political influence and to the creation of a China-centric model of regional order.

KeywordsChina, South East Asia, Belt and Road Initiative, anti-Chinese sentiments
Received13.12.2021
Publication date13.12.2021
Number of characters45652
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1 Китайская инициатива “Пояс и путь” порождает много спекуляций относительно истинных и скрытых намерений КНР. Наряду с решением задачи по стимулированию экономического роста, поддержанию политической стабильности, развитию внутренних территорий целью Китая, по мнению многих экспертов, является обретение доминирующих позиций в мировой экономике и политике. Критики зачастую заявляют, что Китай использует свою крупномасштабную инициативу как инструмент “дипломатии принуждения” для осуществления контроля над странами, которые присоединились к ней. Однако, по мнению других аналитиков, эта угроза зачастую оказывается преувеличена СМИ [1].
2 Несмотря на очевидную привязку к стратегическим интересам Китая, этот мегапроект отвечает и экономическим интересам стран, в нем участвующих, предоставляя им доступ к инвестициям, благоприятствуя развитию торговли и созданию современной инфраструктуры. Но существуют и связанные с его реализацией риски, обусловленные обострением экологических и социальных проблем в развивающихся странах, ростом их долговой задолженности. Сейчас еще рано делать окончательные выводы относительно приобретенных ими выгод и понесенных потерь, как и прогнозировать изменение конфигурации их взаимоотношений с Китаем. Тем не менее изучение опыта реализации инициативы “Пояс и путь” в Юго-Восточной Азии позволяет приблизить нас к ответу на вопрос об ее осуществимости в регионе, учитывая реакцию на нее стран ЮВА.
3 Логика заявленных Китаем целей делает неизбежным включение расположенных в географической близости к нему стран ЮВА в его долгосрочные экономические и политические планы. Вопрос, однако, в том, насколько последние отвечают интересам самих стран ЮВА? И есть ли вероятность того, что углубление взаимозависимости между ними в результате создания системы коммуникаций и расширения торгово-экономического сотрудничества в рамках “Пояса и пути” приведет к утрате ими самостоятельности при принятии решений и создаст условия для формирования китаецентричного регионального порядка?
4

СТРАНЫ ЮВА И КИТАЙ: НЕОБХОДИМОСТЬ СОГЛАСОВАНИЯ ИНТЕРЕСОВ

5 Китай придает особое значение странам ЮВА в реализации своей инициативы по ряду причин.
6 Во-первых, они находятся в непосредственной территориальной близости к нему. Это облегчает использование связей с соседями для развития его пограничных и внутренних территорий, а их географическое положение на стыке Тихого и Индийского океанов содействует реализации одного из двух направлений ОПОП ‒ Морского Шелкового пути и открывает Китаю доступ к портам в Индийском океане, что отвечает его стратегическим планам диверсификации торгово-экономических путей и усиления военного присутствия в Индийском океане.
7 Во-вторых, ЮВА в настоящее время — один из наиболее интенсивно развивающихся регионов. При общей численности населения в 673 млн человек и ВВП в 2.7 трлн долл. регион обладает обширным рынком для сбыта китайских товаров и услуг и является привлекательным местом для размещения инвестиций и производств. Планируя проекты в рамках “Пояса и пути” в странах ЮВА, Китай опирается на уже накопленный опыт экономического взаимодействия с ними. В 2019 г. оборот товарной торговли между странами – членами АСЕАН и КНР составил 508 млрд долл. На долю КНР приходилось 18% совокупного внешнеторгового оборота стран Ассоциации, 14.2% их экспорта и 22% импорта. При этом в торговле с КНР страны – члены АСЕАН в 2010‒2019 гг. имели постоянно нарастающее отрицательное сальдо, которое за указанное десятилетие увеличилось почти в 10 раз – с 10.4 млрд до 102.9 млрд долл. Однако на долю КНР в 2019 г. приходилось всего лишь 5.6% совокупного притока прямых иностранных инвестиций в страны – члены АСЕАН (8.9 млрд долл.) [2, pp. 63-64, 124, 134]. Проекты “Пояса и пути” рассматриваются Китаем как инструмент продвижения своих интересов и обретения доминирующих позиций в регионе с использованием заинтересованности стран ЮВА в притоке иностранных инвестиций для создания современной инфраструктуры, нехватка которой в условиях ограниченных внутренних источников накопления сужает их возможности для дальнейшего экономического роста, поддержания конкурентоспособности и развития интеграционных связей внутри Сообщества АСЕАН.

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