Updates on China’s investments in three ASEAN economies: Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia


About the Seminar

Since Xi Jinping announced the 21st century maritime silk-road in Kazakhstan and Jakarta, which later became part of his flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), there has been a significant increase in China’s investments in Southeast Asian region. China’s persistent desire to connect the region and to develop massive infrastructure projects has been gaining support among numerous host economies in the region.

In Malaysia, the scale of China’s infrastructure projects as well as investments in other sectors have been expanding rapidly. Likewise, in Indonesia, China went from being a peripheral investor in the economy to its third-largest investor under Jokowi’s presidency. Its flagship project, the high-speed rail connecting Jakarta and Bandung, has been delayed but appears to be making progress currently and it is scheduled to be completed by as early as next year. In Cambodia, there has been a huge influx of Chinese investment, workers and tourists in recent years.

This seminar provides an overall update on China’s investment activities in each of the three member countries of ASEAN, i.e. Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It attempts to provide comparisons on specific projects, namely industrial park and rail developments in each country. Lastly, it also seeks to examine the main challenges and prospects for these projects.

About the Speakers

Chheang Vannarith is a public policy analyst and government relations strategist. He has over a decade of experience as a geopolitical and political economic analyst, with a focus on Southeast Asia. He is currently serving as President of the Asian Vision Institute (AVI), Member of the Board at the Kirirom Institute of Technology (KIT), Chairman of the Advisory Council of the National Assembly of Cambodia, Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Adjunct Lecturer at the School of Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University. He was honored a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2013 and Southeast Asia Young Leader by the IISS-Shangri-La Dialogue in 2016. He previously served as Visiting Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (2017-2018), China Institute of International Studies (2016), Institute of Developing Economies in Japan (2012), and East-West Center in the United States (2010); Southeast Asia Consultant at The Nippon Foundation in Japan (2016-2018); Lecturer of Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Leeds (2013-2016), Executive Director of Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (2009-2013); Technical Advisor to the Cambodian National Assembly (2011); and Assistant to Cambodia’s Defense Minister (2011-2012). He received his PhD in Asia Pacific Studies from the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in 2009.

Tham Siew Yean is Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore and Professor Emeritus, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She was formerly Director and Professor of International Trade at Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Her research interests cover trade in goods and services as well as foreign direct investment (FDI), including BRI projects from China in Malaysia. She has served as a consultant with national agencies such as Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Malaysia, and international agencies such as World Bank, World Bank Institute, Asian Development Bank and Asian Development Bank Institute. She has published extensively on trade-related issues in books and journals such as Journal of Contemporary Asia, Emerging Markets, Finance and Trade, Asian Economic Panel and Prague Economic Papers, besides co-editing several books published by international publishing houses. She has a PhD in Economics from University of Rochester, USA.

Siwage Dharma Negara is Senior Fellow, Co-Coordinator of the Indonesia Studies Programme, and Coordinator for the Singapore APEC Study Centre at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. He is Co-Editor of the Journal of Southeast Asian Economies. His research interests include: macroeconomic and development issues, connectivity, industrial and trade policies with special focus on Indonesia. He is the co-editor of the Indonesian Economy in Transition: Policy Challenges in the Jokowi Era and Beyond (ISEAS 2019); and co-editor of Aspirations with Limitations: Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (ISEAS 2018). Siwage holds a Ph.D. in Economics from University of Melbourne.

For registration, please click on this link. Registration closes on 24 February 2020.


Feb 26 2020


10:00 am - 12:00 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2