They could seek to cement their dominant position in coming years, according to new research. The work by academic Xue Gong and published by Singapore’s ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute this week sheds light on a little-examined element of rising tensions across the vital trade route, showing extensive work by Chinese SOEs in developing infrastructure and tourism, as well as oil and gas, some in hotly disputed areas. Some experts and regional diplomats believe the strong commercial presence could further complicate any future regional solution should Beijing, which research shows has encouraged firms to operate, protect them politically and militarily. China’s state-owned enterprises operated in a complex and often opaque environment, serving national strategic interests as they sought new opportunities, Gong told Reuters. “They cannot operate independently but they are ultimately opportunists and when the policy environment is favorable, then they will go for it. And we have seen signs of that behavior in the South China Sea,” said Gong, who is based at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. “If the Chinese government can maintain an upper hand and leverage while achieving stability, there might well be greater opportunities.” China’ Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for… Read full this story
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