September 14, 2016

Impact of China's Rise on the Mekong Region

Title:  Impact of China's Rise on the Mekong Region
Edited By:  Yos Santasombat
Publisher, Year:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2015
Cost:  USD$80

The timing of this book could not have been more on point.  With Chinese economic influence spreading the world over and as some critics describe as "takeovers" of other countries through money and investment, this book attempts to analyze from varying national perspectives of what has occurred in certain Asian countries. The entire book is an amazing and worthwhile read. Overall this is highly recommended reading as it's a very timely publication for any reader on Southeast Asian economic politics. It is insightful and eye opening (and unfortunately the book is a bit expensive).

However there are two chapters that relate to Laos, as noted below.

Chapters 3 looks into the old and new Chinese immigrant communities in Laos.  It also discusses the social cultural practices and institutions that help to constitute a wider cultural identity and sense of community development.  It also gives a glimpse into the Chinese government's cultural apparatus and how that system supports Chinese communities abroad.

Chapter 4 goes into the issue of SEZs.  Chinese investment in Lao special economic zones (SEZs) is among the highest of any of Laos' investors.  This chapter is devoted to this issue as it also analyzes the Chinese attitudes towards the Lao, its methods of "civilizing" certain areas through economic development, and the results.

Full chapter titles and breakdown shown below.

Chapter 3 - Changing Landscape and Changing Ethnoscape in Lao PDR:  On PRC's Participation in the Greater Mekong Subregion Development Project
By:  Bien Chiang and Jean Chih-yin Cheng
  • Introduction
  • The Concept of Ethnoscape
  • The Claimed and the Real Participants of GMS
  • Historical Encounters between Lao and China
  • The "Chinese Communities" in Laos
  • The Haw and the Chin
  • Mid-1970s Exodus and its Aftermath among the "Old Chinese"
  • The Social Production and Reproduction of the "Old Chinese Community"
    Chinese Association
    Chinese School
    Chinese Cemeteries
  • The Representation of Haw in Laotian Official Publications
  • The Emergence of New Chinese Community
    Shopping Malls
    Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Laos
    The Confucius Institute in the National University of Laos
    Soochow University in Laos
  • Interaction between the Old and the New Chinese Communities
  • Lion Dance Route of the 2013 Chinese New Year, Vientiane
  • Changing Ethnoscape of Ethnic Chinese in Northern Laos
  • Aids and Investments "with Chinese Characteristics"
  • Practice of Hiring and Management:  The Case of Don Chan Island Project
  • Lao Workers and Chinese Managers
  • Gift Giving and the Spectacular Instructural Projects
  • Conclusion
  • Notes

Chapter 4 - Commodifying Sovereignty:  Special Economic Zones and the Neoliberalization of the Lao Frontier
By:  Pinkaew Laungaramsri
  • Introduction
  • Situating Neoliberalism
  • Dreamland and the Desire to Civilization
  • The Local Emperor, the Casino Empire, and the Making of a Neoliberal Space
  • Commodifying Sovereignty and Collaborative Discourse:  "We will Turn the Wild Frontier into a Modern City"
  • The Civilizing Mechanism:  Deception, Coercion and Abeyance
    Coercion and Mediation
  • More Civilizing Mission
  • The Neoliberal Subjects
  • Living the Life of Neoliberal Subject
  • Negotiating Neoliberal Modernity and Modern Subjects
  • Conclusion
  • Notes

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