High-Speed Empire: Chinese Expansion and the Future of Southeast Asia

Columbia Global Reports. May 2018. 107p. notes. ISBN 9780997722987. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9780997722994. POL SCI
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the One Belt One Road Initiative to create trade and infrastructure links between Asia and Europe. Journalist Doig (Salon; The Daily Beast) investigates how this initiative has resurrected a century-old dream of creating a rail line to connect Singapore with Kunming in southwest China. The author traveled to Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore and experienced firsthand the development that is already occurring along the proposed high-speed rail corridor. The variety of political systems and cultures involved presents challenges for the project's construction. China offers fast construction at generous rates and also provides loans to help finance the projects. The influx of Chinese workers to the region, along with large loans that are difficult to pay off, arouses local suspicion of China's motives. Those looking for a more detailed analysis of China's relations with Southeast Asia should consider Impact of China's Rise on the Mekong Region, edited by Yos Santasombat.
VERDICT An excellent and concise introduction to China's rail diplomacy. Highly recommended for readers interested in Asian current affairs.

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