China-ASEAN Monitor


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Photo: ABS CBN News

Trade and Investment

Philippines Officials Discussed ASEAN Summit and Trade Deals with China
In a Philippines cabinet delegation visit to China on 23-24 January, the two countries discussed the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN this year and talked in further details about economic deals and investments worth US$15 billion that China had pledged to Manila in October 2016. In the meeting, China has agreed to cooperate with the Philippines on 30 projects worth US$3.7 billion that focuses on poverty reduction. The Philippines is actively trying to attract Chines investments into Philippines, a plan that follows Duterte’s “pro-Filipino” policy that aims to reduce the country’s reliance on the U.S.
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Malaysia Former Prime Minister Slams China’s Investment in Forest City
Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s former Prime Minister has criticised the sale of prime Malaysian land in Johor for the China-led Forest City project. He denied that he is against foreign direct investment (FDI) from China due to racism, instead clarifying that he opposed such move as it allegedly leads to massive immigration of China’s population to Malaysia. According to Mahathir who calls himself “pro-Malaysia”, the land acquisition would subsequently create building settlements, towns and cities that will later be sold to millions of Chinese nationals who will come and live in Malaysia. He added that the entry of powerful China companies would also create stiff competition against local businesses, eventually taking a large chunk of the economy, in addition to posing a potential threat of disrupting the sovereignty of Malaysian government.
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China’s Investment Reaches US$1.6 billion in Indonesia
The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) of Indonesia recorded a total investment of US$1.6 billion from China up until the third quarter of 2016, making China the third-biggest investor in Indonesia after Singapore and Japan. The secretary-general of the China Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia, Liu Cheng, on 20 January, acknowledged that economic cooperation between the two countries has been improving in recent years and added that Chinese businesses planned to put investments worth US$3 billion in the ferronickel sector. In Indonesia, there are at least 200 Chinese firms, with 30 of them operating in mining sector and the rest in various other industries.

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China-ASEAN Relations

Philippines Tells Outsiders Not to Use ASEAN as ‘Proxy’ for Superpower Rivalry
The Philippines told global powers that Southeast Asia is not a “proxy for their rivalry”, as Washington and Beijing compete for influence in the region. The reminder came as ASEAN aims to preserve unity and establish a mechanism to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea, which have placed ASEAN at the centre of the struggle for regional influence among countries such as the US and China. The South China Sea disagreement has also been a source of friction within the bloc itself, as some ASEAN countries have taken positions on the issue in line with China, while others have been more suspicious of China’s assertiveness.
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Cambodia Stays with ‘One China’ Policy
Cambodian Senate President on 20 January reiterated his country’s unchanged stance on supporting the “One-China” policy and said that Cambodians are satisfied with the close cooperation both countries have through their comprehensive strategy partnership. He also believes that in the future, China will play a more important role in keeping peace, stability and security in the ASEAN region and internationally. Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia, Xiong Bo said that he is confident that the Sino-Cambodian relationship will further deepen in all fields for the greater interests of the peoples of the two countries after having a “highly fruitful year” for their cooperation in 2016.
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