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China’s Economic Statecraft Toward Myanmar and North Korea

Colloquium | April 24 | 4-6 p.m. | 180 Doe Library


James Reilly, Government and International Relations, University of Sydney

Kevin O'Brien, Political Science, UC Berkeley

Center for Chinese Studies (CCS), Institute of East Asian Studies


Tempted by their expansive authority over China’s economy, Chinese leaders are increasingly deploying economic resources such as foreign aid and overseas investments to influence policy decisions in other countries. To implement economic statecraft, China’s leaders rely upon state-owned companies, bureaucratic agencies, and local Chinese officials, even though they may be unreliable representatives of the central government. This presentation compares how central leaders’ delegation of authority shaped both the strategies and effectiveness of China’s economic statecraft in North Korea and Myanmar. In North Korea, the active engagement of top leaders and overlapping interests among key domestic actors enabled a higher level of coherence and effectiveness, while a severe principal-agent problem in Myanmar undermined the internal coherence and external effectiveness of China’s economic statecraft. My findings draw upon extensive field research in China’s border regions with both countries and in Myanmar.


ccs@berkeley.edu, 510-643-6321