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Rising Dragon: Infrastructure Development and Chinese Influence in Vietnam

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Master's thesis

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This thesis will contribute to the on-going debate over whether Chinas rise as a regional and potential global power will be benign or disruptive for Southeast Asia. The central argument is that China is creating mechanisms that can exert influence on Vietnam by developing infrastructure links and creating regional economic dependencies. These mechanisms are being formed as a consequence of economic development programs associated with bilateral and regional initiatives. These infrastructure developments create the mechanisms for future exploitation by expanding Chinas economic and military power projection capabilities. The thesis will argue that the newly developed, cross-border infrastructure links can be used to exert Chinese influence over Vietnam in the event of a regional contingency involving territorial disputes in the South China Sea or broader geopolitical affairs in the region. To demonstrate how infrastructure development creates a mechanism for Chinese influence in Vietnam, the study will attempt to apply Hirschmans theory of national power through trade to the cross-border overland transportation links and electric power grid. Hirschmans approach allows for the influence effect of trade, stating that the more immediate effects of a stoppage of trade from China will have on the Vietnamese economy, the more influence Beijing will have in Hanoi. Two case studies will be utilized, an analysis of the overland transportation links and the electric power grid. The overland transportation links will be discussed from both bilateral and regional perspectives, focusing on the cross-border trade in goods. The electric power grid also will be discussed from both bilateral and regional perspectives. In each case, the study will argue that the interruption of trade will be more disruptive to Vietnam than China, thereby providing two distinct mechanisms for China to exert influence over Vietnam.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Electric Power Production and Distribution
  • Surface Transportation and Equipment

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