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Lessons From ASEAN on How Africa Can Better Manage Ties With China

While Chinese engagement in Africa is a relatively new phenomenon, dating back around 20 years now, countries in Southeast Asia have millennia of experience in managing ties with Beijing. Today, the 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, are on the frontlines of the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s rapidly escalating rivalry with the United States.

And given that most of Southeast Asia is very similar to Africa in terms of demographics (both young regions), agriculture (both are predominantly agrarian), and development (average per capita incomes are similar at around $4,000-$5,000), there are a number of applicable lessons that African stakeholders can takeaway from ASEAN’s experience in managing ties with China.

Sebastian Strangio, Southeast Asia Editor at the Asia-Pacific news site The Diplomat, is among the world’s leading journalists covering the region and also the author of a new book that chronicles ASEAN’s complex, often contentious relationship with its powerful neighbor to the north. Sebastian joins Eric & Cobus to discuss how countries in this part of the world have learned to live “in the dragon’s shadow.”

Show Notes:

About Sebastian Strangio:

Sebastian Strangio is a journalist, author, and analyst focusing on Southeast Asia. Since 2008, his writing from the region has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The Economist, The New Republic, Forbes, Al Jazeera, and The Atlantic, among many other publications. In addition to living and working in Cambodia, where he spent three years reporting at The Phnom Penh Post, he has also reported from Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, South Korea, and the Russian Far East.

Sebastian holds a B.A. and Master’s degree in International Politics from The University of Melbourne, where he was first initiated into the journalism racket as co-editor at the monthly student magazine Farrago. He is currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he is an affiliated researcher at the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development at Chiang Mai University.

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