China’s investment is transforming its smaller Southeast Asian neighbours like never before while helping turn Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar into bigger destinations for its exports.
That is driving some of the world’s fastest economic growth rates and providing Chinese companies with low-cost alternatives as they seek to move capacity out of the country. It is also helping Asia’s largest economy and nations in its orbit adapt to what looks more and more like a new era of waning US commitment to the region from a more inward-looking administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
China is investing in everything from railroads to real estate in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar — the frontier market economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. China Minsheng Investment Group and LYP Group, headed by Senator Ly Yong Phat, signed a US$1.5bn deal to build a 2,000-hectare city near Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, with a convention centre, hotels, golf course, and amusement parks, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The spending equals roughly one-tenth of the country’s US$15.9bn gross domestic product.