Griffith Asia Institute Research Seminar: The Development-Insecurity Nexus in China's Near-Abroad: Rethinking Cross-border Economic Integration in an Era of State Transformation

Griffith Asia Institute Research Seminar: The Development-Insecurity Nexus in China's Near-Abroad: Rethinking Cross-border Economic Integration in an Era of State Transformation
Griffith Asia Institute Research Seminar: The Development-Insecurity Nexus in China's Near-Abroad: Rethinking Cross-border Economic Integration in an Era of State Transformation

Principal speaker

Associate Professor Shahar Hameiri

Surprisingly, perhaps, China's flagship Belt and Road Initiative expresses a familiar mix of the security-development nexus and liberal interdependence thesis: Chinese leaders expect economic development and integration will stabilise and secure neighbouring states and improve inter-state relations. However, drawing on the record of China's intensive economic interaction with Myanmar, it is argued that the opposite outcome may occur, for two reasons. First, capitalist development is inherently conflict-prone. Second, moreover, China's cross-border economic relations today are shaped by state transformation - the fragmentation, decentralisation and internationalisation of party-state apparatuses. Accordingly, economic relations often emerge not from coherent national strategies, but from the uncoordinated, even contradictory, activities of various state and non-state agencies at multiple scales, which may exacerbate capitalist development's conflictual aspects and undermine official policy goal. In the Sino-Myanmar case, the lead Chinese actors creating and managing cross-border economic engagements are subnational agencies and enterprises based in, or operating through, Yunnan province. The rapacious form of development they have pursued has exacerbated insecurity, helped to reignite ethnic conflict in Myanmar's borderlands, and plunged bilateral relations into crisis. Consequently, the Chinese government has had to change its policy and intervene in Myanmar's domestic affairs to promote peace negotiations.

Shahar Hameiri is Associate Professor of International Politics at the School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland. He obtained his PhD from the Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University. Associate Professor Hameiri's work focuses on security and development in Asia. His current, ARC-funded, project focuses on the effects of state transformation on China's interactions with Southeast Asia. His latest co-authored books are International Intervention and Local Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and Governing Borderless Threats (Cambridge University Press, 2015). His work has also appeared in leading academic journals, including International Studies Quarterly, European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Political Economy and Development and Change. He is also a regular contributor to the media and tweets @ShaharHameiri.


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