Differentiating the politics of dependency: Confucius Institutes in Cambodia and Myanmar

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Abstract

Cambodia and Myanmar are both identified as "pro-China " IndoChinese countries with regimes that rely on political support and economic investment from Beijing. Cambodia and Myanmar, therefore, have become testing grounds for China's new soft power initiative of "spreading cultural understanding" by means of the establishment of Confucius Institutes. China's relations with both Cambodia and Myanmar are improving, but local responses to the Confucius Institute initiative differ in the two countries. Phnom Penh has one Confucius Institute and three Confucius Classrooms equipped with thirteen Chinese language teaching stations, including those installed in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Academy and the Office of the Prime Minister. The initiative is enthusiastically championed by government and political leaders. In the case of Myanmar, three Confucius Classrooms, rather than Confucius Institutes, have been established by ethnic Chinese associations in Yangon and Mandalay. Lacking governmental endorsement, these Confucius Classrooms need to keep a low profile. The aim of this article is to differentiate between the politics of dependency in China-Cambodia and China-Myanmar relations by exploring local contexts and responses to Beijing's soft power initiatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-44
Number of pages34
JournalIssues and Studies
Volume50
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2014

Keywords

  • Cambodia China
  • Confucius Classrooms
  • Confucius Institutes
  • Myanmar
  • Politics of dependency

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