Public Lecture on “The Rising of Giant China and ASEAN”

Public Lecture on “The Rising of Giant China and ASEAN”
Min Seiha (Associate Dean, College of Social Sciences)

This was held at the UC Conference Center on November 13, 2012. The panel comprised Mr. Jean-François Tain, a political analyst and director of foreign language broadcasts on Radio France International; and Mr. Puy Kea, correspondent of Kyodo News and a board member of the Club of Cambodian Journalists who has been focusing on ASEAN for the past several years. Mr. Min Seiha, (UC Associate Dean for the College of Social Sciences) was the moderator.

Mr. Tain reviewed the most significant events in the history of modern China; China’s reform policy on economy, politics, and foreign relations; and the rise of China in the region and the world.
Thus he pointed out that China has expanded its foreign policy not only in Asia, but also in Europe, Latin America and Africa. He also linked China’s policies with the United States of America. In the context of defense policy, China has enlarged its military power in Asia, particularly within Asia-Pacific Region. He personally predicted that due to economic prosperity and educational improvement, Chinese citizens might be able to choose their top leaders by their own votes in the next 20 years, just like in the United States.

He proposed that the presence of the United States in the Asia-Pacific is mainly the result of four considerations. Historically, he said that the United States has been a marine super-power in South East Asia since the 19th century. Recently, the pace of economic development in China has been the fastest in the world. Thus, the U.S. wants to counterbalance the rise of China in the Asia–Pacific. This is partly because some nations in Asia Pacific have called for the presence of the United States in the region as such a counterbalance.

China has just emerged as the most powerful country in East Asia in areas ranging from economics to politics to the military. In terms of economics, it is predicted that, if there is no further global crisis, China would replace the United States of America at the top since China has widened its economic base with markets across the globe. In international relations and military issues, there is no doubt that China is strengthening itself through close and strategic cooperation with many countries, establishing and maintaining its influence in many parts of the world including South-East Asia, Africa, Oceania and elsewhere.

However, China is still young compared to others and would face fierce challenges. The new economic basis and limited experience in international politics may be a weakness of the country.
One question arising out of this in international political analysis is that, if China becomes the top economic power, how will China behave? Also, despite past fast growth, it has been predicted that, twenty years from now, China might be facing big internal economic and other challenges, with internal political instability.

China views that ASEAN is an important strategic partner, acting as a buffer with the United States of America. Therefore, China has asserted its influence by helping many countries in ASEAN through grants and other forms of aid and major development projects.

Mr. Puy Kea reviewed some of the main events in the history of ASEAN. He also discussed the possible attendance of President Obama at the 7th East Asia Summit and the absence of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Mr. Tain hoped that “The Rising of Giant China and ASEAN” presented an opportunity for students, particularly those whose majors are related to politics and international relations, to be inspired to further analyze this hot topic. Certainly, the lecture offered an insightful and critical perspective, with possible predictions on the future of China with regard to internal politics and international affairs; and thus how this and other powerful countries will interact with each other and the possible consequences.