China is increasingly gaining influence in Southeast Asia, especially in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). Chinese companies have obtained or are negotiating land, mining, forest and oil concessions in GMS countries and have started to invest in large scale agricultural development and the extractive resources sector. In parallel with private investment, the Chinese government is acting as a donor to a number of countries in the GMS, mainly financing large infrastructure projects. China also represents a development model for the economy of countries in the GMS.
Through our activities we try to promote a better understanding of linkages with trade, investment, environmental and social impacts among policy-makers, scholars, businesses and NGOs from China, and Mekong countries and to provide a platform for stakeholders in South-East Asia to express their views on and concerns about Chinese trade & investment that Chinese policy advisors should be aware of. Heinrich Böll Foundation China and Cambodia offices partnered with Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to organize a two-day international conference in November 2009 to look at trade, investment and sustainable development between China and Mekong countries. The conference brings together policymakers, business and civil society representatives from China and Southeast Asian countries.
In the aftermath of this conference Heinrich Böll Foundation offices in China, Cambodia and South-East Asia have supported field research, organized study trips and initiated an exchange program. The aim has been to get a deeper understanding of Chinese investment activities in GMS as well as to raise awareness among Chinese researchers and policy advisors for environmental and social impacts of big investment projects in those countries.