Myanmar’s return to the position of international pariah has created a new opening for Beijing. By moving in where the West, reeling from the junta’s shocking human rights abuses, has been reluctant to step in, Beijing hopes to boost China’s regional influence and secure access to vital natural resources.
In recent years, several European states have sought to project their precious naval assets in the Indo-Pacific region in ways that reflect widely accepted fashions in strategic thinking. But the underlying logic of this thinking now needs to be viewed more critically after the return of interstate war on European soil.
Over the past few years, the Southeast Asian state of Laos has positioned itself at the center of growing trade, economic and infrastructure integration in the Mekong subregion. Its ambitious plan envisioned its dams providing electricity for Laos’ more populous neighbors and its expanding web of roads and rails—whose development is funded extensively through debt, much of it to China—connecting the region’s rising economies. But that was before Laos’ economy crashed. Today, inflation is skyrocketing. Staple goods like cooking oil are becoming scarce. And the local currency is collapsing against the dollar. The country, whose credit rating was downgraded by Moody’s in [...]