Looking beyond the Chinese state’s intentional influence reveals many situations that result in unanticipated changes in Southeast Asia.

Many studies of China’s relations with and influence on Southeast Asia tend to focus on how Beijing has used its power asymmetry to achieve regional influence. Yet, scholars and pundits often fail to appreciate the complexity of the contemporary Chinese state and society, and just how fragmented, decentralized, and internationalized China is today.

In his new book The Ripple Effect: China's Complex Presence in Southeast Asia (Oxford University Press, Spring 2024), Enze Han argues that a focus on the Chinese state alone is not sufficient for a comprehensive understanding of China’s influence in Southeast Asia. Instead, we must look beyond the Chinese state, to non-state actors from China, such as private businesses and Chinese migrants. These actors affect people’s perception of China in a variety of ways, and they often have wide-ranging as well as long-lasting effects on bilateral relations. Looking beyond the Chinese state’s intentional influence reveals many situations that result in unanticipated changes in Southeast Asia.

About the speaker

Enze Han is Associate Professor at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, The University of Hong Kong. His recent publications include Asymmetrical Neighbors: Borderland State Building between China and Southeast Asia (Oxford University Press, 2019), Contestation and Adaptation: The Politics of National Identity in China (Oxford University Press, 2013), and various articles appearing in International Affairs, World Development, The China QuarterlySecurity Studies, Conflict Management and Peace Science, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies among many others. During 2015-2016, he was a Friends Founders' Circle Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, United States. Dr. Han received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the George Washington University, and he was also a postdoctoral research fellow in the China and the World Program at Princeton University.

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Image credit: Image of ripples in water by Michael Gabelmann from flickr, free to use under CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed licence



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