Stay up to date by joining our mailing list!

America, China, and the Retreat of Democracy in Southeast Asia: The Case of Cambodia

April 17, 2018
11:30 AM MDT - 1:30 PM MDT
 Add to Calendar

University Club Denver
1673 Sherman St
Denver, CO 80203
Venue website
 Directions

In January of 2017, in one of the first acts of his new administration, President Donald Trump made the decision to pull the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), signaling an end to US participation in multilateral trade agreements. Since then, Beijing has continued to exert greater influence in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Through initiatives like One Belt One Road (OBOR), China is increasingly capitalizing on American isolation as a means to advance its political interests. Using Cambodia as a case study, I examine how China has been able to simultaneously advance its political agenda in the Asia-Pacific region by politically needling an America on the wane. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs bureaucrats allegedly see the world very much as zero-sum; America’s loss is China’s gain, and countries like Cambodia serve as proxies for China. China has already used its growing economic influence to encroach on existing hegemonic relationships, exerting increasing control over the South China Sea and Mekong River and through special economic zones and massive investment focused locally. With Cambodia as an example, I show that China has stepped beyond a purely economic partnership and has become a beacon for autocracy, resulting in democratic retreat.

Event Details
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.: Luncheon, Presentation & Audience Q+A

About the Speaker

Sophal Ear, Ph.D., is a tenured Associate Professor of Diplomacy & World Affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles where he teaches international political economy, international development, international security, and Asian security. Previously, he taught contemporary theories of political economy, Asian political economy, and how to rebuild countries after wars at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and international development policy at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.
He is the author of Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy (Columbia University Press, 2013, http://amzn.to/UXhoWc) and co-author of The Hungry Dragon: How China’s Resources Quest is Reshaping the World (Routledge, 2013, http://amzn.to/WkxCEf). He wrote and narrated the award-winning documentary film "The End/Beginning: Cambodia" based on his 2009 TED Talk and has appeared in several other documentaries. In 2015 he was named a 40 Under 40 Inspiring Professor by NerdWallet and in 2016 won the Reverend Clementa C. Pinckney Achievement Award for Extraordinary Leadership in Public Service by the Public Policy & International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship Program. A graduate of Princeton and Berkeley, he moved to the United States from France as a Cambodian refugee at the age of 10.