The Impact of China’s Belt & Road Initiative on Southeast Asia

Wednesday, November 15, 2023
12:00-1:30 pm HST | 5:00-6:30 pm EST
Hybrid Event: 258 Moore Hall or Online

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is being likened to the “21st Century Maritime Silk Route” which will encompass Southeast Asia. The construction of infrastructure will impact transportation, trade, foreign policy, national politics, and international legal frameworks. Will the BRI be equitable for the 11 Southeast Asian countries that are impacted, or will it establish new colonial relationships? Join us on Wednesday, November 15 at 12:00-1:30 pm HST for a panel discussion with Jeff Fox (Senior Fellow, East-West Center), Kevin Woods (Research Fellow, East-West Center), Samphoas Im (Visiting Scholar, Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center), and Shuxian Luo (Assistant Professor of Asian Studies, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa). The discussion will be moderated by Miriam Stark (Director, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa).

Jefferson Fox is a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center. He conducts research on land-use and land-cover change in Asia and the impact of these changes on the region and the global environment. Other areas of study include resource-management systems and land-cover transitions in Montane Mainland Southeast Asia—their role in altering regional hydrological processes under a changing climate; the ethics, values, and practice of spatial information technology and society; and natural resources and violent ethnic conflict in the Asia Pacific region. He has worked with watershed management projects in Nepal, and lectured in the Geography Department at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He is an affiliate graduate faculty member in ­geography and  the program on Natural Resources and Environmental Management at the University of Hawai‘i. He holds a PhD in development studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and speaks Nepali and Bahasa Indonesia.

Kevin Woods was professionally trained at Yale University and UC Berkeley as a political ecologist and human geographer, with a focus on land and natural resources, ethnic-based armed conflict and rebel governance. His geographic focus is in mainland Southeast Asia, especially Myanmar, where he worked in varying capacities for nearly two decades. In addition to his academic training, he has worked as a policy analyst for several international non-profits on land and environmental governance reforms in war and postwar settings. He also considers himself a scholar-activist; his collaborative and participatory research projects have arisen out of deep engagements with indigenous communities and their leaders who live in and navigate through armed conflict zones. He is recently a research Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i working as an environmental social scientist in mainland Southeast Asia. He is also an Adjunct Assoc. Prof. at the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

Samphoas Im is a political scientist whose research focuses primarily on Cambodia and continental Southeast Asia. She studies Cambodia’s contemporary politics, emphasizing authoritarian politics, political strategies, social welfare policies, and Cambodia-China relations. her research strives to demonstrate how the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party employed the social security program to maintain its dominance in Cambodian politics. She is currently a Visiting Scholar, Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Fellow on Southeast Asia at The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) at Stanford University. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Political Science specializing in Social Policy Analysis and Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.

Shuxian Luo is an Assistant Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. Her research interests include maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, Chinese foreign policy, and U.S.-China relations, especially crisis management. Her current book project, tentatively titled Taking it to the Sea: Escalation Decisions and Strategies in China’s Maritime Disputes, develops an analytical framework to explain when, why, and how China escalates incidents at sea arising from its maritime territorial and boundary disputes in the 21st century. Dr. Luo’s other ongoing research projects look at China’s growing hydrocarbon standoffs in the South China Sea, Sino-Russian relations in the context of China’s territorial disputes with Vietnam and India, the grassroots movement in Hong Kong for defending the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands (Baodiao), and Asian countries’ expanding geo-economic interests in the Arctic.

Miriam Stark, who currently serves as CSEAS Director, joined the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 1995 as a Southeast Asian archaeologist. She has worked in Southeast Asia (Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia) since 1987. Her archaeological research focuses on local histories (particularly Cambodia’s deep history) and on the materiality of social life.

This event is cosponsored by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs, Center for Chinese Studies, and Center for Southeast Asian Studies.