China’s Belt and Road Initiative has its detractors and opponents. To some it is an existential threat. Given its Leviathan nature that is no wonder. Of course, the BRI also has its enthusiasts and supporters.
In a surprising move on May 12, 2017, just a day before the opening of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Nepal signed the framework agreement in Kathmandu. However, this has raised strategic apprehensions in India.
With deepening cooperation between China and countries along the Belt and Road, more needs to be done in institutional arrangement, policy chains, risk assessment and control as well as communication at different levels.
In 1986, Vietnam instituted economic reforms known as Doi Moi. In 1995, former US President Bill Clinton normalized relations with Vietnam. With US support, Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization.
India’s relationship with Iran is important for a myriad of economic and strategic reasons. Firstly, India is amongst the largest importers of oil, second after China, from Iran. Secondly, India is helping Iran in the development of Chabahar Port.
On May 15, 2017, Japan signaled its intention to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank initiated by Beijing. The condition is for the AIIB to address Japan’s concerns about the environmental impact of AIIB-funded projects and other matters.
Some Cambodian scholars have commented that the country’s debt situation is manageable. However, one should take proactive measures to tackle the unpredictable backlash which could potentially derive from debt.
The most important area in which ASEAN can contribute is to bring about the ASEAN Community with cultures and historical backgrounds different from those of the European Union. The new global conditions present Southeast Asia with opportunities and challenges.