Comparative Connections v.13 n.3 - China-Southeast Asia
January 12, 2012
China endeavored to win regional influence and goodwill by emphasizing reassurance and mutually beneficial relations with Southeast Asian counterparts. Nevertheless, it failed to keep the issue of the South China Sea off the agenda at the East Asia Summit as Premier Wen Jiabao was placed on the defensive and compelled to defend China’s approach to resolving territorial and maritime security issues. Official Chinese commentaries reacted to the setback in Bali with criticism directed at the US, but they tended to avoid hyperbole seen in unofficial Chinese media. They also registered opposition to initiatives by Japan and India regarding Southeast Asia and the South China Sea that were seen as at odds with Chinese interests. Myanmar’s decision to stop a major hydroelectric dam project being built by Chinese firms raised questions about China’s influence in the country while Myanmar’s new civilian government tried to improve relations with the US and other powers.