Political Economy of China’s “Near-Abroad”

Shahar Hameiri

The Development-Insecurity Nexus in China’s Near-Abroad: Rethinking Cross-Border Economic Integration in an Era of State Transformation” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2018.1502802) is a new article available at the publisher’s website.

Lee Jones

It is authored by Shahar Hameiri of the School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland in Australia, Lee Jones of the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London in England and Zou Yizheng of the Institute for China’s Overseas Interests, Shenzhen University in China.

The abstract for the paper states:

Zou Yisheng

Surprisingly, perhaps, China’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative expresses a familiar mix of the security–development nexus and liberal interdependence thesis: Chinese leaders expect economic development and integration will stabilise and secure neighbouring states and improve inter-state relations. However, drawing on the record of China’s intensive economic interaction with Myanmar, we argue that the opposite outcome may occur, for two reasons. First, capitalist development is inherently conflict-prone. Second, moreover, China’s cross-border economic relations today are shaped by state transformation – the fragmentation, decentralisation and internationalisation of party-state apparatuses. Accordingly, economic relations often emerge not from coherent national strategies, but from the uncoordinated, even contradictory, activities of various state and non-state agencies at multiple scales, which may exacerbate capitalist development’s conflictual aspects and undermine official policy goals. In the Sino-Myanmar case, the lead Chinese actors creating and managing cross-border economic engagements are sub-national agencies and enterprises based in, or operating through, Yunnan province. The rapacious form of development they have pursued has exacerbated insecurity, helped to reignite ethnic conflict in Myanmar’s borderlands, and plunged bilateral relations into crisis. Consequently, the Chinese government has had to change its policy and intervene in Myanmar’s domestic affairs to promote peace negotiations.

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