Announcing: Walsh, John, “Variable Responses to Democratisation and the Rise of Chinese Influence in Mekong Region Capital Cities,” in Dharwis Khudori and Yukio Kamino, eds., Towards a Sustainable Ecology: Global Challenges and Local Responses in Africa and Asia (Malang, East Java: Brawijaya University, 2012), pp.227-34.
Mekong Region capital cities (Naypyidaw, Hanoi, Bangkok, Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Kunming) must face not only the pressure of environmental change and pressure on resources but also two additional common factors: the first is the increasing role of Chinese investment and labour in the region and the second is the pressure for democratization in economies which are entering into or progressing through the factory stage of industrialization. Each city’s governing authority is dealing with these issues in a different way. Naypyidaw has been newly created as a governmental centre linked to all national networks but supposedly inoculated against political protests. Vientiane is a colonial city which can do little to resist the growth and influence of newcomers. Hanoi is a political capital city that is trying to retain its independence and distinctiveness. Phnom Penh has encouraged domestic and international private sector investment as it prepares industrial estate factories to benefit from low labour cost competitiveness. Kunming is dealing with being both a source for and a host of capital for rapid economic development and its side effects. Bangkok continues to try to ward off the perceived threat of democracy while retaining its status as a primate city. This paper considers the variations in approaching common problems and seeks both to explain those variations while
highlighting the more effective approaches to those problems.