Perceptions and Practices of Investment

China’s hydropower investments in mainland Southeast Asia
18 May 2015

China is one of the major investors in hydropower development in mainland Southeast Asia, yet Chinese involvement in hydropower varies across the region. Popular and expert viewpoints on China’s investment in hydropower also vary widely.

Many government representatives and domestic investors see Chinese partners as a key source of the large amounts of foreign exchange that are critical to development and economic growth. At the same time, questions about the ‘dominance’ of Chinese projects in various sectors, as well as about the motives guiding Chinese investments have triggered substantial public concern, with anti-Chinese attitudes intensifying across the region.

In this working paper, we build on the insights gained from existing work on Chinese investment in the region, such as the rising powers framework, to examine the situation of ‘practice and perception’ of Chinese investment in hydropower in Vietnam and Myanmar.

In considering these investments and trends, we also caution reinforcing or mobilizing xenophobic narratives about China.