УДК 96 B.B.KASENOVA, D.R. KELDIBAYEVA Eurasian National University named after L.N. Gumilyov Astana, Kazakhstan kasenovab@inbox.ru kr_dana@mail.ru


Scientific E-journal «edu.e-history.kz» № 3(11), 2017

Tags: geopolitical, geopolicy, resources, China, South-East, Asia, ASEAN, free, trade, area, South-China, sea, territorial, dispute, integration, interests.
The given article analyzes main geopolitical goals of the People’s Republic of China in South-East Asian region. Exploring historical evolution of China’s relations with countries of this area, presented work gave a full image of geoeconomic interests which include trade, financial, FDI, transportation and communication matters. Great attention was paid to the importance of certain states and their strategic position. Worth to note that the role of South-China Sea is also considered in article as it composes a big set of China’s maritime interests. Examining methods and ways of implementation of the particular interests. given work defines the state’s current position towards territorial disputes in this region.

At the beginning of the XIX century, China became one of the most influential geopolitical actors in modern international relations. This was due to the emphasis on the economy and on building economic potential in its foreign policy, whichby the way China has made since 1970s. This was a reason for the PRC 's status of the main player in international arena, without participation of which the solution of some international issues would be not only difficult, but even impossible.

Prior to the beginning of global financial and economic crisis in autumn 2008, the scale of China's GDP growth averaged up to 9% per year. After the onset of crisis, pace of  progressive economic potential has somewhat decreased. Despite this, China continues to increase its scientific-technical, industrial, financial and military power. Thus, at present days China is on the first place in the world in terms of gold and currency reserves and the largest holder of American securities (i.e. certificate attesting credit, the ownership of stocks or bonds, or the right to ownership connected with tradable derivatives).

These aforementioned economic factors allow to actively implement a large-scale geopolitical project aimed at enhancing China's geopolitical influence in international affairs. Officially, the conceptual point of such global geopolitical program of the Beijing was made in the report of Central Committee of the CPC (中国共产党中央委员会), delivered at the XVII Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which was held in October 2007. In the above-mentioned CPC program document, the fundamental idea was set as the main priority of state construction on the international arena. This document, corresponding to the political and economic interests of Beijing, foresees the creation of so-called "harmonious world" [1].

Before reviewing Beijing’s main geopolitical concerns, we should know that it is particularly interested in preventing the establishment of American world domination. For this reason the current leadership of the CPC considers that for China the creation of new world order based on principles of multipolarity is geopolitically beneficial. According to them, such world order would not allow the one-sided advantage in international affairs for a single power. Interesting to note that ASEAN nations adhere a similar view on world politics, advocating for the polycentrism in international relations system and mutual respect between all states. At the same time, Chinese ruling circles have also embarked on the course of further integrating the country into the world economy, thus maximizing the benefits of globalization processes in order to provide the Chinese people with favorable opportunities for achieving economic prosperity [2].

So, for example, during his visit to Thailand in November 1988, Prime Minister Li Peng formulated four principles on relations between China and the countries of Southeast Asia:

1) strictly follow the five principles of peaceful coexistence;

2) advocate the principle of confrontation with hegemonism;

3) in economic relations, uphold the principles of equality and mutual benefit;

4) in international affairs, follow the principles of independence and self-reliance, close cooperation , mutual respect and support [3].

Initially, China's rapid economic growth triggered fears in this area, that neighbors would be "suppressed" and China "will pull back" on itself capital investments from Southeast Asia. China's growing economic influence and desire to "seize" ASEAN also worried other external powers like Japan, pushing them to confront Beijing.  However, in recent years, China has partially managed to dispel such concerns, as its economic growth is a source of wide opportunities for other states. For Southeast Asian states particularly, such opportunity will contribute to a significant increase in exports. Additionally China manages to convince these developing countries that its economic rise is a boon to them and, as a result, increases the degree of interdependence between them, then the degree of realization of China's interests will increase too. Therefore approach that China has taken in Southeast Asia during the last decade is characterized primarily by attempts to find a solution to regional conflicts, willingness to participate in activities of organizations and in multilateral dialogue, and, in general, supporting ideas of good-neighborliness and mutual benefit.

China was the first country to propose the establishment of free trade area in the region with members of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), and formally joined the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. Consequently, although not completely, China obviously achieved success in transforming its image from communist country, which had followed strong desire to world expansion by restraining other states, to peaceful one, preferring cooperation and mutual respect.

Speaking of geopolitical interests, we should take into account that more than half of them are directly related to the economic needs of the country. Chinese economy is also increasingly dependent on imports of raw materials from Southeast Asian states, whose supply is also a matter of national security. Therefore, not only ASEAN members are interested in China as a trading partner, but it is also extremely important for China to find a common language with states of this region. Hence the so-called Chinese "penetration" in Southeast Asia is mainly focused on the development of cooperation and economic benefit. Although the statistical data of various sources are changing, China today is the largest trading partner of ASEAN (Table 1), whereas ASEAN is the third among China’s main trading partners – after EU and US.

Table 1

Top ten ASEAN trade partner countries/regions, 2015

Trade partner country/region

Value (US $million)

% Share to total ASEAN trade



Total trade



Total trade








China (People’s Republic of)














EU (28)







United States







Republic of Korea














Hong Kong





















Total top 10 trade partner countries





















Source: ASEAN External Trade Statistics


For instance, the trade turnover between two sides, in general increased from $8 billion in 1981 to $380 billion dollars in 2014. It means also that the PRC is a leading country for Southeast Asian states, in terms of export markets and import origins (134 and 211 US million dollars relatively) [4]. Furthermore, China aims to elevate bilateral trade with ASEAN members to $1 trillion dollars by 2020. However, the fact that countries of this region receive a huge economic benefit through such cooperation does not mean that they are completely dependent on China. While wealthier ASEAN countries (as Singapore or Brunei) have different external trading partners and as a result a less dependence on Chinese market, poorer ASEAN countries (Laos, Cambodia, Burma/Myanmar and especially Vietnam) depend heavily on China, particularly as a source of imports today. Worth to note that over the past decade, Vietnam and Malaysia were the main contributors to expansion of the ASEAN-China trade. Also in 2013, when almost every ASEAN nation deteriorated its trade balance with China, Malaysia and Thailand were only two countries that ran a goods trade surplus with the PRC [5]. The main source of trade between two sides is manufactured goods, specifically machinery and electronics.

Another situation is in the sector of foreign direct investment (FDI). Although it has been growing rapidly, China is still marginal to ASEAN’s general FDI receipts. In accordance with data from China’s Ministry of Commerce, country contributed around 2.3% of ASEAN’s total FDI inflows in 2013. Even taking into consideration the probability that Ministry of Commerce may be underestimating actual flows (by not including the investment from Hong Kong), the fact remains China is not yet a major investor in ASEAN (Table 2). From official statistics it can be seen that Singapore is China’s major FDI partner in ASEAN, making substantial direct investments into China ($7.2 billion in 2013) and also receiving a huge share of Chinese FDI in return [6, p.43].

Table 2

Major investment fields of China in ASEAN countries


Major investment sectors


Electricity, oil and gas, mining


Coal, oil and gas, steel


Commerce, housing, tourism


  Energy, transportation, shipping, real estate, finance


Manufacturing, energy


Textile, real estate

Source: Deloitte Research


In 2007, China and ASEAN countries signed an Agreement on Trade in Services within the framework of free trade zone. This is a legal document regulating mutual access to services market and solving issues in this area [7]. The document considers the rights and obligations of both parties in trade of services. It also contains a list of first group of goods, the fees for which will be reduced after mutual opening of the services market. According to the agreement and other analogical documents that were signed in the framework of PRC-ASEAN Free Trade Area, Southeast Asian countries will allow Chinese enterprises to create joint ventures with 100% capital and companies with a large shareholding in their territory [8-9]. On this basis, author can assert that the next Chinese geoeconomic interest is related with the opening of financial, telecommunication, construction and also tourist markets in this region.

The presence of common market for goods and services with the nations of this region provides China with:

1.  access to the regional market for investment capital and borrowed funds;

2.  access to foreign markets;

3.  the experience of these countries  in the implementation of European general-accepted standards of work in financial and investment sectors. All this will give China's investment portfolio an additional attractiveness for foreign investors.

To a great extent, the Free Trade Area (FTA), which was fully established in 2010, contributed to the expansion of trade and economic cooperation between China and the countries of the Association [10]. Experts believe that ASEAN-China Free Trade Area will surpass NAFTA’s free trade zone in terms of gross import and export, and in 2020 it will outpace the EU's free trade area by total GDP. At the same time, the aforementioned three blocks will become main economic pillars of the world, and ASEAN-China Free Trade Zone will become the largest association of developing countries.

Although it should be marked that from an economic point of view, the establishment of FTA is more in line with the interests of Southeast Asia than China. First of all, it opens up a huge Chinese market for the goods of these countries. Secondly, the Chinese government guarantees to its private investors the return of capital, which was invested in these countries in the case of any force majeure circumstances.  Thus, part of the direct foreign investment (FDI) can indirectly move to ASEAN countries, which will also contribute to their economic stability in the case of western capital’s escape. The Chinese market is immeasurably larger than the combined market of all ASEAN states. So why China, with its colossal economic potential, is still offering ASEAN such favorable conditions? All this shows us that the leadership of  PRC pursues other goals, primarily political, for achieving of which it is ready to sacrifice economic benefits.

Last but not least, China's other considerable geopolitical interests relate to establishing links in this area in order to gain access to seas and ocean; implement its projects in order to strengthen communication and transportation matters. This in turn contributes to Chinese expansion in almost all areas of cooperation and the spread of its influence, thereby making Southeast Asian countries, particularly the Mekong countries (Myanmar,Laos,Thailand,Cambodia andVietnam), vulnerable and more dependent on China.

The Southeast Asian nations control the most important straits in southern seas, so China needs to maintain friendly relations with such an influential organization as ASEAN. It is even extremely important for China when it comes to implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, which will expand the opening-up policy from coastal areas to inland, covering land and sea. This is why Beijing tried to enlist the support of two key strategic sea countries of Southeast Asia - Indonesia and the Philippines. One clear example is a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Indonesia which was signed in April 2005 [11]. Thereafter loans for infrastructure projects worth $300 million and more than $10 billion were invested in the country's private sector. Later in September 2006, China announced the provision of assistance "package" worth $2 billion in annual loans to the Philippines until 2010, which exceeds $200 million from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Apart from strategically important straits, control over Southeast Asian countries is also necessary for China because of access to the Indian Ocean. As it will radically change its military and strategic capabilities and will strengthen claims for world leadership. Today, China has already made numerous successful attempts to achieve this goal. In Myanmar, for example, on the Arakan coast, the Chinese actually bought a port and gas field, to which the network of roads, gas and oil pipelines have been connected from the Yunnan (province in the farsouthwest) border.

Likewise on the coast of Andaman Sea, the PetroChina campaign has been actively building an oil terminal, since October 2009. At the first stage of project it will annually get 12 million tons of oil from the Middle East to China. The oil will be supplied to the pipeline by tankers, which provide China with another way of delivering oil, besides the Strait of Malacca [12].  Success in the implementation and expansion of this project threatens not only to cut Myanmar’s territory in half with Chinese communications, but will also allow Beijing to firmly stand in the Andaman Sea and Indian Ocean.

Beside this, closer integration into ASEAN structures will allow China to achieve real agreements in the field of transportation tariffs. This becomes a basis for the creation of Indochinese transit transport route between Pacific coast of the American continent and the Middle East, African countries. Hence, Beijing is aware of the need for deepening interconnection in Southeast Asia and expanding road, rail, air and water communications between Southeast Asia and China, which could provide an even greater link between them. In this context, Beijing proposed initiative to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which provides financial assistance in implementing major regional infrastructure projects [13]. This step seems to be farsighted, since it can bring double benefit for China: first, to further improve the image of the PRC as a reliable creditor and donor of Southeast Asia, and secondly, promote the development of communication that will stimulate the further growth of trade, investment and tourist exchanges.

Finally, author would also like to note some geographical significance of this area for China and its complementary expansion results. The Southeast Asia, directly adjoining to Chinese borders, serves as a continuation of south and southwestern China. The actual line, where China ends and Southeast Asian territory begins, is very unclear. Since it mainly passes through the sparsely populated areas. Worth to note, these areas are well known not only by huge flow of legitimate and illicit trade crossing this border, but also by easily spreading ideas of China as a prosperous and attractive state. There, local traders generally implement their trading operations in yuan (China’s official currency, 元), not in dollars or in national currencies of Southeast Asian countries. They also save money in yuan, thereby expanding circulation area of ​​this currency. In the northern areas of Myanmar, beside calculations in Chinese yuan, there are also mobile communication, schools, newspapers and even signboards in Chinese.  Burmese themselves admit that the northern part of their country is actually already occupied by Chinese business. This kind of informal influence has reached such level that China can now intervene in the political issues of these regions. To illustrate, the recent attempts of Myanmar authorities to bring order along the border with China were accepted by local population as an invading efforts. Thus they appealed for China’s assistance in their complex relations with central authorities. As a response, China sent its high-ranking officials to Myanmar to protect the interests of the mountain people.

It is also reasonable to note East Timor, located in the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago. This country is not a member of ASEAN, but is a part of Southeast Asia and also strategically important state for China. East Timor is the second poorest country in Asia (after Afghanistan). The state’s infrastructure is in a complete decline, and a third of GDP falls on agriculture. Therefore, by help in the form of investment and loan, China becomes the largest economic partner of this country. Chinese have already received enough fund from their government for the construction of two power plants in Timor. Weapons, uniform and other elements of military equipment are also purchased in China. For such patronage, authorities of Timor in turn support Beijing in its policy towards Tibet, Taiwan, etc. But the most important thing relating East Timor is its strategic position, which is quite profitable: prior to neighboring Australia and Indonesia and also holding lot of oil and gas reserves. In addition the proximity of East Timor to the Wetar Strait is also of the great importance for China. Wetar actually is one of the deepest straits in the world and an ideal route for submarines from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean. In the case of conflict situations, effective use of submarine fleet will depend on the possession of Wetar, and the possession of Wetar mainly depends on possession of Timor.

At the present stage, Southeast Asian countries, which are members of ASEAN, represent the most active structure in the Asia-Pacific and, due to its regional cohesion, claimed to be the main regional integration center. China's economic policy towards developing countries is expanding dynamically at the present days. This is because of plenty trade and economic disputes and, correspondingly, the increase in protectionist measures against developed countries. Nevertheless, the near-abroad states remain in the Chinese first priorities. In this sense, tactics of interaction with developing states of the APR are different from the tactics applied towards developing countries of other continents.

China's current position in Southeast Asia is very strong. A significant level of trade, economic and investment cooperation has been achieved; сultural and humanitarian ties are closely binded. But China's attempts to create military-political "bridges" in Southeast Asia is seriously hampered by the remaining unresolved territorial problem in the South China Sea (SCS). The confrontation in the South China Sea nowadays turned into one of the sharp problems of global politics due to the clash of interests of several countries. Despite the fact that disputes do not affect all ASEAN members, it creates a headache for the entire Association as a single bloc of nations.

The problematic point of this conflict includes territorial disputes between the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and a number of Southeast Asian countries - the Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Each of the participants in this conflict claims a number of territories, along with the Chinese side, which now defends its sovereignty over the Paracel Islands (the PRC controls them completely), and over most of the Spratly archipelago (controlled by different countries) - overall 80% of the water area South China Sea [14]. The fundamental dstinction between Beijing and ASEAN positions is as follows: Beijing is firmly asserting its right to almost whole area of the sea, but at the same time expresses its readiness for dialogue with each of the countries on a bilateral basis, opposing the internationalization of this conflict with third party’s involvement. In turn, individual members of the Association (in particular Vietnam and the Philippines) would like to bring the dialogue to a multilateral level with the possibility of arbitration. In this case individual countries of ASEAN find moral support from the United States. Despite Washington's repeated statements about its intention to remain neutral in this conflict, its official position largely corroborates with the ASEAN states. Americans use the term of "national interests" (which include the freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea) as a motive to enhance their role and increase their military and political presence in the Southeast Asian region. On this basis, the United States is interested in preserving the conflict situation.

As some Western experts point out, conflicts are an emotional, protective reaction of the ruling elites of Southeast Asia against the expansion of China. Worth to note that this reaction is not of all the ruling elites, but only of a part of the ASEAN countries. A clear political polarization is occurring in this area under pressure of Chinese and American factors. On the one hand, the anti-Chinese pole is growing, which comprises of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. According to forecast of analytical organization Stratfor in 2013, Vietnam and the Philippines were characterized as the most consistent opponents of China in Southeast Asia, and also likely to support American business and military presence in the region.

On the other hand, there is a pro-Chinese group, which includes Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. When delegations of the Philippines and Vietnam took steps regarding the Chinese aggression in this region (by the USA's assistance) during ASEAN session in 2012 in Cambodia, they tried to include in the draft of final document the thesis of "Chinese aggression". The host country of this summit i.e. Cambodia and a number of other states blocked the project. For the first time in 45 years of the Organization's history, the final resolution of the summit was not adopted. The reason was a disagreement between countries on the problem of China's policy in the area.

There are also Indonesia and Singapore, which openly have not declare their hostility or loyalty to Beijing yet. However politically they are still closer to the opponents of the PRC.

From the above, it will be easy to understand with which countries and at what level China is currently conducting military cooperation. On the one hand, military ties with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar have traditionally remained strong, cooperation with the Thai military has steadily deepened, a close dialogue with Indonesia has been established, and cooperation with Malaysia is progressing. On the other hand, relations in this sphere with the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam remain sluggish. It seems that the degree of interstate cooperation on the military line is directly dependent on the level of mutual trust. In this regard, a number of countries in the region still have feelings of suspicion and fear of a strong neighbor from the north who is building up the military power.

Therefore China is in a difficult situation today: on the one hand, with an eye to keep leadership in this region, it is essential to deepen relations with Southeast Asian partners and particularly in the military-political sphere. On the other hand, the territorial dispute is a matter of principle for modern China, which positions itself as a strong and self-confident state. Chinese leadership cannot "lose" the dispute in the South China Sea because of the nationalism factor. Since after weakening of the communist ideology in China itself, the national unifying role in country is mainly played by Chinese nationalism. Its postulates like powerful state, a strong nation, the getting back historic lands of the former empire are vital elements of national pride. Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a meeting of Political Bureau of theCPC Central Committee that access to these sea areas plays an important role not only in the country's sustainable economic development, but also it protects China's sovereignty, security and implements a policy of revitalization of the Chinese nation [15]. Hence many Chinese political scientists began to include Singapore, as well as the foreign Chinese diaspora (huaqiao) in the "Greater China", which also includes mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Today, as the economic power of China increases, military and political interests are also included. In this regard, the tasks of gradual displacement of  the United States from this region, the expansion of China's military security zones, thousands of miles from the Chinese coast and, of course, control over key sea communications in the South China Sea have become very relevant. This largely explains the consistency, uncompromising and stiffness of Beijing in promoting its interests. Such impulse is very difficult to stop, as it is part of the national historical tradition. This tradition today is further supported by the need to constantly expand China’s commodity markets, in order to maintain the continuity of economic growth. In Beijing, it is well understood that any commodity crisis can easily overturn stability within Chinese society. These reasons allow author to assume that the PRC in the near future unlikely to compromise on the problem of disputed territories in the South China Sea. On the contrary, it should be expected a toughening of the Beijing’s position.

 As everyone knows, China has been showing stable GDP growth for a long time: since 1991 its rate has not dropped below 7% per year. Maintaining stable growth requires considerable costs and resources. China, like any other intensively developing country, is experiencing an increasing need for them. Furthermore, during the transformation of its economy China turned into a "global factory" (in 2010 became the world's largest exporter, and in 2013 the leader in terms of foreign trade) [16]. Nevertheless, China has not been particularly successful in terms of energy and resource saving. The issue of food provision is also sharp for the current leadership of the country, taking into account that the PRC has the largest population in the world. Consequently the Communist Party of China (CPC) came to the decision that the task of ensuring its own food security would be in the main priorities for the country since 2014 [17].

Although for the People's Republic of China hydrocarbon fuel is not the main raw material (68% of the energy consumption was coal, while for oil and gas took 26 and 5% respectively in 2012), it is expected that the role of oil and gas in the country's economy will increase. The government aspires to reduce coal consumption and in contrast increase the use of oil and gas, therefore, along with the growth of renewable energy sources, the role of hydrocarbons in the energy sector of the PRC will increase accordingly [18].

According to the annual statistical report of the British oil and gas transnational company BP РlC, PRC is on the 2nd place (After US with 19,3 million barrels) in the world in terms of consumption of oil products with an indicator of 11.9 million barrels per day. It produces a significant amount of oil on its territory (4.3 million barrels), and is a net importer of this resource with an indicator of 8.1 million barrels per day. At present, the share of imports from the total amount of consumed resources is almost 60%, with the volume of imported raw materials increasing by 6% annually [19]. Thus, with a constant increase in the use of oil products, own production cannot fulfill the needs of the country. In 2015, proven oil reserves in China amounted to 18.5 billion barrels. This means that even if the production is stable at the current level, its oil reserves will be exhausted in just over 10 years.

About 75% of the oil imported into the PRC comes from the Middle East and Africa (Saudi Arabia, Angola, Iran, Oman, Sudan, Iraq, as well as Russia). Thus, the majority of oil supplies pass through the sea routes, including water area of the South China Sea.

A similar situation with natural gas. At present, China takes the 3rd place in the world for its consumption with an indicator of 197.3 billion cubic meters [20]. Over the last 20 years, the volume of natural gas consumption annually increase to 11.6%. Such high growth rates by 2007 turned China from a net exporter of gas to a net importer. The proven reserves of natural gas resources in the country are small and amount to only 3.8 trillion cubic meters. If the current production volumes are maintained, they should last for less than 30 years. However, taking into consideration this significant growth in consumption, resources may end before given period. In the current situation, China's energy and defense security depends on the import of hydrocarbons. Consequently ensuring the uninterrupted supply of oil and gas is becoming one of the most significant aspects in Beijing's foreign policy.

The gas is supplied via pipelines from Central Asia (in the case of Russia) or in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by sea. 30% of LNG imports come from Australia, and also through South China Sea [21, p.16].

Therefore, the establishment of control over the region and especially over hydrocarbon deposits on the Spratly Islands opens up the possibility of turning them into important source of raw materials for Chinese growth. It is worth noting that the Chinese government's document "China's Energy Conditions and Policies" [22], which indicates China as the largest developing country with a developing economy, the second producer and consumer of energy resources, but facing the problem of combating poverty and improving the living standard of the population. At the same time, China's energy consumption growth is a necessary condition for eliminating these problems.

The South China Sea in this situation is of the greatest interest to the PRC. Its subsoil, according to some estimates, contains significant reserves of oil and gas which are so vital for country. However, the impossibility of carrying out geological studies due to territorial disputes does not allow to get exact estimates of the resources contained on the shelf of the SCS. The US Energy Information Administration estimates the proven and probable reserves of 11 billion barrels oil and 190 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, which in their point of view, is not enough and it is unlikely that there will be more resources of this type in this region [23].

This is a rather interesting statement, which at the same time contradicts to the US presence there and their politico-military actions.  Estimates coming from Beijing differ from the US data, as China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s annual reports show that there are more oil and natural gas resources. In any case, the development of hydrocarbons can significantly reduce the energy dependence of China from foreign suppliers.

The control of sea basin, beside controlling the flow of energy resources, opens up other opportunities which make this area politico-strategically significant for China. Supplies of hydrocarbons through this water area are carried also to Japan [24, p. 6] and South Korea: these countries import more than 80% of oil from the Middle East. Taiwan, by the way, has the similar level of dependence on the import of African and Middle Eastern oil [25]. Thus, the possession of two archipelagos - Paracel and Spratly, means not only a partial solution of energy supply issue to the PRC, but also raises the question of vulnerability of Beijing's neighbors and its foreign rivals - Seoul and Tokyo. Also getting control over the ways of hydrocarbon raw materials’ transportation is one of the steps in solving the Taiwan issue. Overlapping oil and gas supplies from the Middle East can be one of the levers for solving foreign policy problems in favor of Beijing. This position of  Chinese leadership clearly opposes the interests of the United States. Because there are also navigable (shipping) hydrocarbon routes that are delivered to the United States from the Middle East through the South China Sea. So this sea is a kind of corridor between Pacific and Indian oceans, where goods worth $5 trillion are transported daily[26].

Additionally to oil and gas, there is another resource that subsoil and water of the South China Sea can provide. It's a marine food resource. To a large extent, the economy of the People's Republic of China depends on the volume of fisheries, and the significance of this sphere grows every year. South China Sea, like other water areas of Southeast Asia, is a zone of very intensive extraction of food resources. So, according to specialists, "the seas of Southeast Asia account for 40% of the total catch of fish in the world" [27, p.1]. Thus, significant food reserves of the South China Sea, can play important role not only in supporting China's energy independence, but also in ensuring food security, which is also one of the main political goals for Chinese leadership today. Taking into account the intensive growth of population as well as the increasing pollution in territories within the country, which in turn harms the growth of high-quality grain products, China particularly needs an additional source of food provision nowadays [28].

At present days, it can be stated that territorial disputes over the ownership of islands have transformed into disputes over the right to resource extraction as well as over the control of maritime navigation.

Everyone knows that China is going to realize one of the colossal projects in the history of mankind. This huge project named “One Belt, One Road” consists of several programs, each of which will help for Chinese expansion and consolidate the country's position in almost every region of the world. So if Central Asia, including our country, will become an important link in the continental program of this big project, then Southeast Asia will be a link in the maritime one [29]. Beijing also hopes to restore the new mechanism of "Maritime Silk Road" that would pass through modern territories of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand. The idea of "the 21st CenturyMaritime Silk RouteEconomic Belt" in fact is based on the spread of its influence in the adjacent regions, including Southeast Asia, specifically through trade and sea transport. Speaking in Indonesian parliament in October 2013, Xi Jinping said that the implementation of "Maritime Silk Road" will increase the total trade turnover among the PRC and ASEAN nations to planned 1 trillion dollars by 2020 [30-31].

Objectives of China's maritime policy are to protect the state’s territorial integrity, ensure the safety of maritime navigation, strengthen the country's naval defense and promote the development of maritime economy. Even though the foreign policy towards the Southeast Asian countries faced some changes (mainly due to the change in Chinese leadership), the fifth generation of Chinese leaders continues to defend this strategic line. Therefore, they obviously will not skimp on military equipments and also expect opponent's first step. China has been consistently and steadily strengthening and modernizing its army, air force and navy in the territories adjacent to the Southeast Asian states. The great share of military budget is going for modernization of the fleet. Chinese military shipbuilding plants are already outperforming their European, Japanese, Korean competitors, by variety of species as well as by potential volume of ship production. Chinese shipyards can match with Russian indicators by 2020, and by 2030 - with American ones [32].

Despite China's rather assertive and sometimes even aggressive actions, today conflicting parties officially express their commitment to the peaceful settlement of dispute through diplomatic tools.

Basis for this became the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, adopted in 2002. At the same time, it is obvious that some declarative statements are not enough to ensure stability in this territory. Although this document formed the base for potential multilateral approach to South China Sea disputes, it is not a binding agreement. That is why at present all efforts are focused on concluding the legally binding Code of Conduct of the parties in the South China Sea, consultative processes of which began in September 2013 [33]. However many observers in the region refer Beijing's statements about openness and readiness for negotiations as a tactical maneuver in order to gain time. The Chinese strategic thinking can be explained with necessity to consolidate its presence slowly, but steadily and persistently, including through practical cooperation in the sea, which can also bring commercial benefits.

Thus, it can be concluded that, in spite of tactical maneuvers, strategic line of the PRC will remain the same. The more successful economic policy of the PRC and stronger the armed forces will be, the more often Beijing will use a harsh approach. The danger of China gaining full control over the sea and consequently the possibility of limiting the strategic resources supply make China's opponents pay closer attention to territorial disputes in the SCS. Therefore, some of Southeast Asian nations begin to negotiate with another powerful country that can balance China's influence in the region. Such power’s role was played by the United States. But apparently a new course in US foreign policy regarding the countries of Southeast Asia will experience considerable changes with newly elected president. A few days after taking office, Donald Trump decided to withdraw from negotiation processes for the creation of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). From new president’s point of view, this agreement, initiated by Obama administration, can have disastrous consequences for the US in terms of economy. During his campaign, he had said that he would return production to America and the US would withdraw from those multilateral agreements that were unprofitable to them. A TTP is beneficial primarily to countries such as China, which export a large number of their own products, because production also takes place in the PRC. Now Beijing gets new opportunities[34].

Problem of territorial disputes in ​​the South China Sea is perhaps the main factor preventing the further Chinese penetration into the region. In the present conditions, China appears to be squeezed between tasks of defending its geopolitical interests, on the one hand, and preserving a favorable environment for expanding relations with countries of this area, on the other. In such issue as territorial affiliation, Beijing is hardly ready to go for a fundamental change in its tough position. At the same time, everyone understands the need to reduce tensions for the successful conduct of their foreign policy in this region. Partly for this reason, today a dialogue on the development of the Code of Conduct in the SCS is possible.


1 http://news.xinhuanet.com/  Hu Jintao's report at 17th Party Congress, 24 October 2007

2 Шатохин А.В., Эволюция внешнеполитических доктрин КНР, Москва, 2013 №5 // Shatohin A.V., Evolyuciya vneshnepoliticheskih doktrin KNR, Moskva: Izd. «MCNO», 2013 № 5

3http://news.xinhuanet.com中国政府关于建立、恢复和发展同东盟各国关系的四项原则 (1988年), [The four principles of the Chinese government on the establishment, restoration and development of relations with ASEAN countries (1988)] Xinhua News Agency, November 2001

4  ASEAN External Trade Statistics: top ten export markets and import origins by ASEAN Secretariat, 2015

http://www.newmandala.org Francesco Abbate and Silvia Rosina, ASEAN-China trade growth: facts, factors and prospects - on New Mandala, 14 June, 2016

6 The U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission, China’s Economic Ties with ASEAN: a Country-by-Country Analysis, March 17, 2015

7  推动中国—东盟自贸区服务贸易发展战略,[Promote China - ASEAN Free Trade Area Service and Trade Development Strategy] by National Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China, 24 January 2011

8 王娟.中国与东盟国家国际服务贸易壁垒研究.学术论坛 [Wang Juan. Research on International Trade in Services between China and ASEAN countries, Academic Forum], 2009

9 轩文娟. 金融危机背景下加强中国与东盟服务贸易双边合作的思考. 西南财经大学, [Xuan Wenjian. Study on Strengthening the Bilateral Cooperation between China and ASEAN in Service Trade under the Background of Financial Crisis. Southwest University of Finance and Economics], 2008

10  http://www.globaltimes.cn China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. Global Times, 10 August, 2013

11 中国和印尼关于建立战略伙伴关系的联合宣言, 2005.04.26 [China and Indonesia Joint Declaration on the Establishment of Strategic Partnership]

12  https://www.bfm.ru/Китай решил эксплуатировать Мьянму // Kitai reshil ekspluatirovat' M'yanmu, 5.02.2010

13  http://news.xinhuanet.com/ Mu Xuequan , Premier Li Keqiang Gives Joint Written Interview To Media from ASEAN Countries, Xinhuanet; 8 October 2013 

14  Канаев Е.А., Конфликт из-за островов Южно-Китайского моря: история, характер урегулирования, перспективы эволюции. Готика, 2007, 324 с. //Kanaev E. A., Konflikt iz-za ostrovov Yuzhno-Kitaiskogo morya: istoriya, harakter uregulirovaniya, perspektivy evolyucii. Gotika, 2007, 324 s.

15  http://www.china.org.cn Building China into a Maritime Power , August 30, 2013

16  https://www.ft.com Anderlini J., Hornby L. China overtakes US as world’s largest goods trader, January 10, 2014

17 No.1 Central Document (zhongyang yihao wenjian), by Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, 12 January 2014

18  http://thediplomat.com Tiezzi S., How US companies benefit from China’s coal addiction // The Diplomat 2013, November 21

19  BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016-data, oil

20  BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016-data, gas

21 Ho Khai Leong, Samuel C.Y. Ku China and Southeast Asia: Global Changes and Regional Challenges. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asia Studies, 2005, p. 356

22 中国的能源状况与政策, 中华人民共和国国务院新闻办公室. 二○○七年十二月, 北京 // China's Energy Conditions and Policies, State Council of the People's Republic of China. Beijing, December 2007

23 Contested areas of South China Sea likely have few conventional oil and gas resource // U.S. Energy Information Administration, 3 April 2013

24 The International Energy Agency, Oil and gas security. Emergency response of IEA countries : Japan // P. 19

25  http://www.platts.com Taiwan imports 60,700 b/d of Iran crude in Apr, first time this year // Platts, McGraw Hill Financial: 2013, June 12

26Ажар Сериккалиева, Оңтүстік Қытай теңізіндегі шекаралық дауға көзқарасы, Еуразия ғылыми-зерттеу институты, 11-17 қазан 2016, №84 //Ajar Serikkalieva, Oňtüstïk Qıtay teňïzïndegï shekaralıqdauğa közqarası, Euraziyağılımi-zertteu institutı,11-17 qazan 2016, №84

27  Youna Lyons, South China Sea: Limits to commercial fishing by claimants / Tara Davenport 2012. № 113

28 http://7sunews.kzЕстай Божан, Қытай тоқырауының бес факторы және Қазақстан //Estai Bojan, Qıtai toqırauınıň bes faktorı jäne Qazaqstan, 6.01.2017

29 http://ult.kz Әшірбек Амангелді, Қытайдың жұмсақ күш саясаты қандай мақсат-мүддені көздейді? // Äshirbek Amangeldi, Qitaydıň jumsak kush sayasatı qandai maksat-muddenı kozdeidı? 6.08.2016

30 http://news.xinhuanet.com政治互信,经济融合, 文化包容的中国方案 [Political mutual trust, economic, cultural integration of Chinese program], 3 May 2017

31http://economy.gmw.cn蓝迪智库: 推动“21世纪海上丝绸之路”与“全球海上支点”战略对接 [To promote the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" and "global maritime fulcrum" strategic docking], 17 November 2016

32  http://thediplomat.com Gabe Collins, Andrew Erickson , U.S. Navy take notice: China is becoming a world-class military shipbuilder / 2012 November 1

33  Chairman’s statement of the 16th ASEAN - China summit. Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam. 9 October, 2013

34 http://qamshy.kzШайхыМарал, Жапондық сараптама: Азиядан америкалықтардың кетуі Қытайдың позициясын нығайтуы мүмкін // Shayhı Maral, Japondiq saraptama: Aziyadan amerikalıqtardyň ketuı Qitaydiň pozitsiyasın nıgaituı mumkın, 8.12.2016


Л.Н. Гумилев атындағы Еуразия Ұлттық Университеті

Астана, Қазақстан




Бұл мақала Оңтүстік-Шығыс Азия өңіріндегі Қытай Халық Республикасының негізгі геосаяси мақсаттарын талдайды.  Қытайдың осы аймақ елдерімен қарым-қатынастарының тарихи эволюциясын қарастыра отырып, берілген зерттеу жұмысы геоэкономикалық, яғни сауда, қаржы, тікелей шетел инвестициялары, көлік және коммуникация мәселелерін қамтиды. Стратегиялық маңыздылығы бар мемлекеттерге және олардың қазіргі таңдағы ұстанымдарына үлкен назар аударылды. Қытайдың теңіз және мұхит аймақтарындағы мүдделерінің жиынтығын құрайтындықтан, Оңтүстік Қытай теңізінің рөлі де мақалада қарастырылды. Айрықша мүдделерді іске асыру әдістерін зерделеу көмегімен, қазіргі кездегі бұл мемлекеттің аумақтық дауларға қатысты ұстанымы анықталды.  

Түйін сөздер:  Қытай, Оңтүстік-Шығыс Азия, АСЕАН, еркін сауда аймағы, Оңтүстік Қытай теңізі, аумақтық дау, интеграция, ресурстар, геосаясат, геосаяси мүдделер.


Евразийский национальный университет им. Л.Н.Гумилева

Астана, Казахстан




В этой статье анализируются основные геополитические цели Китайской Народной Республики в регионе Юго-Восточной Азии. Изучая историческую эволюцию отношений Китая со странами данного региона, представленная работа дает полный образ геоэкономических интересов, которые включают вопросы торговли, финансов, ПИИ, транспорта и связи. Большое внимание было уделено важности определенных государств и их стратегического положения. Стоит отметить, что роль Южно-Китайского моря также рассматривается в статье, ибо она составляет набор морских интересов Китая в этом регионе. Исследуя методы и способы реализации конкретных интересов, данная работа определяет позицию страны касательно территориальных споров.

Ключевые слова: Китай, Юго-Восточная Азия, АСЕАН, зона свободной торговли, Южно-Китайское море, территориальный конфликт, интеграция, ресурсы, геополитика, геополитические интересы.

Сведения об авторах:

Касенова Бахытгул Бердихановна, магистр политологии, старший преподаватель кафедры регионоведения

Келдибаева Дана Романовна, студентка 4 курса

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