Politics of China’s development: China’s investments and finance in Sri Lanka, Myanmar & Laos.
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Abstract: Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Masters of Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Abstract: This thesis will examine China’s influence on Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Laos and their transformations of those three countries throu... read moregh the lens of Chinese infrastructure projects in those countries. Firstly, I argue that before and after the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was proposed, China’s national interest was the same and the Chinese government has continued to pursue it. Although the initiative was supposed to shrink the infrastructure gap and raise the quality of life in the recipient countries, some BRI projects seem more reflective of deep Chinese national interests (mainly based on energy security) or local government interests than pure economic profit calculations or broad recipient country benefits. Secondly, I argue that initially Sri Lanka and ASEAN countries perceived China as a counter balance against the regional hegemony of India and Western countries. Now these countries, which are mainly run by dominant dictatorships, rely heavily on China and may have fallen into a Chinese debt trap. The danger is that the local countries may lose credibility in the eyes of other countries and organizations, which may narrow their finance borrowing options and incentivize them to work more closely with China. Thirdly, I argue that the size of Chinese influence has no relationship to whether the developing countries are democracies or not. Lastly, local citizens’ feelings toward China are swayed by the mobility of Chinese blue-collar laborers. Projects having many Chinese workers with high mobility can cause conflicts between the workers and local people. In making my arguments, I want to emphasize that, when they reach out to China to fund large projects in their countries, these three countries’ governments exercise their agency based on domestic political concerns.read less