China Key to Southeast Asian Unity (or lack thereof)
Growing trade between China and individual Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) member countries are a "weak force" that is "pulling apart ASEAN integration."
Key issues in relationship between China and Southeast Asia:
[Issues id'ed by Noviscape, explanation by IFTF]
"The Spratly dispute" A territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands, some of which are claimed by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Brunei. The islands are a valuable fishing, shipping and oil and natural gas resource.
"Dams on the Mekong River" Chinese hydroelectric dams could affect the level of fish stocks in Cambodia and water supply for Vietnam’s rice fields. But China contends controlling the water flow will prevent the adverse effects of erosion caused by the Mekong’s flooding cycle and will supply renewable energy. China’s refused to join the Mekong River Commission, an inter-government agency whose members include the four of the downstream countries.
"Railways from Kunming to Singapore" New railway development, and potential for more, will connect Southeast Asian countries with each other and China. Though some tourist use is expected, the lines would be used mostly for cargo, strengthening trade and giving China access to natural resources.
"Gas lines through Myanmar" China's building oil and gas pipelines through Myanmar which diversify China's crude oil imports routes from the Middle East and Africa. The agreements have strengthened ties between China and Myanmar.
"China’s choices regarding North Korea and its relationship with Japan" will have numerous economic and political implications for ASEAN countries.
Noviscape asserts that "China will be happy to keep ASEAN weak institutionally."
Sources:Noviscape_July2011 page 2, 3: