China-ASEAN Monitor Weekly
Politics and Security
US and China find common ground elusive at high-level talks
High-level talks meant to steady often fractious US-China relations are instead showing the limits of cooperation in one of the Obama administration’s last major negotiations with Beijing. US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew took Beijing to task for its regulatory barriers on foreign businesses and urged it to cut the rampant excess capacity in steel and other industries that is having “a distorting and damaging effect on global markets.” Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei, later told reporters that China’s industrial overcapacity “has been the subject of much hype around the world,” and that Beijing is “confronting the issue squarely.”
Japan pledges support for Southeast Asia security to counter coercive China
Japan will help ASEAN nations build their security capabilities to deal with unilateral, dangerous and coercive actions in the South China Sea, Japan’s defense minister said on 4 June, in pointed remarks directed at Beijing. Tokyo is worried that Chinese control of a waterway through which some $5 trillion of global trade passes a year would threaten Japan’s national security and take Beijing one step closer to extending its influence into the East China Sea and Western Pacific.
Trade and Investment
Google talks of China return, six years after exit
Google is again signalling strong interest in returning to China, six years after the Internet giant pulled its search engine out of the mainland and stopped censoring Internet search results as required by local law. “We left in 2010 because they had strict rules on censorship,” Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, said “We keep trying. I spend a lot of time trying to reopen it.”
On south-western fringe, China’s Silk Road ambitions face obstacles
China’s plan to extend a high-speed rail link 3,000 km from Kunming south to Singapore is facing challenges in both Laos and Thailand. In Laos, work has yet to start on the rail and the country has yet to agree financial terms with China, foreseeing it could struggle to finance even part of the US$7 billion cost. In Thailand, Beijing’s negotiations have soured as well, in part over financing. Myanmar, in addition, had environmental concerns and cancelled its part of the project in 2014.
China, ASEAN celebrate ‘diamond decade’ of relations
China and ASEAN will achieve broader and deeper cooperation as they have entered the “diamond decade” of their relations, said Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Xu Bu during a seminar marking the 25th anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, in Semarang, Central Java, last week. In 2015, China-ASEAN trade aggregate topped US$472 billion, China-ASEAN two-way investment amounted to more than US$156 billion, substantially increased people-to-people relations and there were more than 180,000 exchange students sent by both China and ASEAN countries, he added. Every week, he further said, there were more than 1,000 flights shuttling between China and ASEAN countries.