Despite the busy schedule for students as the semester draws to an end, presenters and participants from the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and China eagerly took part in the Dialogue. In his encouraging Opening Remarks, Professor Wu Jiewei, Ph.D., Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, underscored the importance of having such a Dialogue to foster interaction between and among promising ASEAN and Chinese scholars and graduate students. He also hoped that both sides will develop enduring friendships and collaboration even beyond the Dialogue.
The Dialogue's first presenter was Assistant Professor Kevin Chua, Ph.D. of the Center for Economic Research of
Shandong University. He gave an analysis of the evolving ASEAN-China trade linkages. He argued that while ASEAN
and China produce similar goods and compete for the same markets, there is an increasing trend towards greater
engagement as a result of the emergence of an integrated regional supply chain. He maintained that strengthening trade in parts and components will enhance trade complementarities. Finally, Dr. Chua noted that economic integration should encourage countries to find their niche, develop their competitive advantages and manage competition with neighbors.
The second presenter was Lucio Blanco Pitlo III, a Master of Laws Candidate from Peking University. His presentation was about the legal aspects of Philippines-China cooperation for infrastructure development under the framework of the Maritime Silk Road. He argued that bilateral cooperation for infrastructure development is beneficial for both states and that Philippine membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank signals the interest of the Philippines to welcome this new regional lending institution. Pitlo surveyed several legal bases for cooperation, such as foreign investment-related provisions in the Constitution, relevant laws (e.g. Public-Private Partnership Law) and bilateral investment agreement. However, he also cited several legal issues and challenges such as Constitutional and statutory caps on foreign investments, as well as the discontinuation of previous China-funded projects. He suggested Chinese companies interested to invest in Philippine construction/ infrastructure sector to consider the domestic legal landscape.
The third presenter is Sothun Bouy, a Masters in Rural Development and Management Studies Candidate from China
Agricultural University. He gave a presentation on the potential and challenges for community-based eco-tourism in Cambodia taking Chi Phat Community in Koh Kong Province as his case study. He said that the Community has not yet integrated agrotourism to attract more tourists because several improvements and developments still has to be made following a sustainable tourism development that has less negative impact to the community’s society, culture and environment than the prevailing situation. He offered several recommendations such as improving waste and sanitation, limiting tourist numbers, obtaining inputs from community members and visitors, enhancing English language capacity building for tour guides, information dissemination on the cultural do’s and don’ts for tourists, and conduct of project monitoring and assessment.
The fourth presenter is Keakruy Lim, a Masters in Business Administration Candidate from the University of Science and
Technology Beijing (USTB) and founder of Window to ASEAN. Lim delivered his presentation on the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) environment in Cambodia and policy for their further development. He pointed out that SMEs played a very important role in the growth of the Cambodian economy in the last decade, employing about 45% of the
labor force. As a result, SMEs received significant government attention encouraging the passing of policies supporting industries that promote SMEs, as well as extension of assistance to both domestic-oriented and export-oriented SMEs.
The Chinese participants all came from PKU Department of Southeast Asian Cultural Studies. They introduced themselves and shared their research interests. Ma Yuchen's (马宇晨) research field is on Philippines-United States/Philippines-China relations and inter-ethnic relations in the Philippines. He shared his past research on anti-Americanism in the Philippines and described it as nationalism-driven, problem-oriented, non-governmental and paradoxical. Among the historical sources of Philippine resentment towards the United States that he cited in his presentation includes the post-independence parity rights and unequal trade laws and presence of US military bases.
The second Chinese presenter is Zheng Youyang (郑友洋) who shared notes about her research on Folk Catholicism and metrical romance in the Philippines. She has a Dual Bachelors degree in Tagalog Language and Culture and in Philosophy from PKU. Zheng's thesis deals with some basic aspects of Filipino Catholics' veneration of saints (or santos)– how the saints were personalized and how the worship of the saints can be related to ancestralism and the religious view of Filipino believers.
Based on her research, Filipino Catholics tend to understand and practice their religious beliefs in their own style and that Catholicism was localized with its fusion with family values, collectiveness, fusion of life and religion. Thus, she pointed out that Roman Catholicism introduced by Spanish colonizers has blended with local Filipino ethics.
Song Yanruoran (宋妍若然) and Huang Yuhui (黃郁惠) shared their interest on Myanmar culture, literature and social phenomenon. Wang Huizhong (王慧中) conveyed her research interest in Malay society and culture. Zhang Jing (张婧) expressed her interest in Indonesian culture and art. Ma Xuemin (马学敏) described her interest in Balinese dance and drama. PhD students Li Fang and Chen Jingyi also shared their research experiences. The participants freely exchanged ideas and insights during the Open Forum. Associate Professor Shi Yang, Ph.D., Philippine Studies Section Director, mentioned the increasing importance of the field of Southeast Asia Studies in China. This opens a wealth of
opportunities for Chinese students to understand Southeast Asia not only by studying and readying materials about the region or the countries in the region, but most importantly by actually visiting the place and talking with its people. This development demonstrates China's interest to understand and build better relations with its neighbors which would augur well for the whole region.
To this end, we hope the ASEAN-China Young Scholars Dialogue will inspire similar future dialogues, discussions and other platforms for the interaction of ASEAN and Chinese scholars and students with the view of fostering better understanding and appreciation of one another's society, culture, language and national aspirations. The Dialogue holds that despite the diversity, ASEAN and China share some similarities and can work together to pursue common interests.