Институт за азијске студије

Asian issues vol. 6, no 1/2020

Sarmiza Pencea, Ana-Cristina Bâlgăr - Romania-China Relations: Short Inventory and Outlook

This paper looks at the Romanian-Chinese relations through time, from a triple perspective – historical, political and, most of all, economic. Against the background of the 17+1 platform and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it analyzes Romania-China bilateral trade, the Chinese investments and presence in the Romanian economy, as well as the impact of Romania’s affiliation to both the 17+1 platform, and the BRI. It sheds light on what was wrong and has hindered the proper functioning of these two Chinese initiatives so far, and it advances the authors’ view on what is needed to make them work better and deliver the promised and hoped-for win-win results

Romania-China relations, 16+1; 17+1; BRI; Belt and Road Initiative; China trade; Chinese investments.

Frank Dhont - The Importance of the Muara Coast Sites for Bruneian World War II Heritage: the Muara Beach Memorial, the American Wreck and the Australian Wreck

The area of Muara experienced intense fighting in World War II. This was the area from where the Japanese troops made their approach to Bandar Seri Begawan and also the area where the Australians fought their way ashore to liberate Brunei. As such the site of Muara Beach is now home to a yearly commemorative ceremony in Brunei and a war memorial erected on the beach itself. The sea off the Muara Coast holds important additional remnants testifying of World War II in Brunei. Two frequently visited diving wrecks originate from World War II and can be accessed by regular divers. These wrecks are called the ‘Australian Wreck’ and the ‘American Wreck’. Both have an interesting and particular history connected specifically to World War II in the area. The paper will discuss how all these sites now serve as reminders of Bruneian World War II heritage and make the Muara Coast area important for this heritage. The paper will argue that the preservation of the wrecks and the Muara Beach memorial is imperative as sites of Bruneian World War II heritage and memory but also for the potential they hold for visitors from Brunei as well as abroad.

Keywords: World War II, Japanese Occupation of Brunei, Memorials, Wrecks.

Zhongfei Chen, Kexin Li - Has the Internet Finance Decreased the Profitability of Commercial Banks? Evidence from China


Abstract In this paper it is discussed whether the Internet finance has decreased the profitability of commercial banks in China and how it has been decreased. Using the data of 200 commercial banks in China, during the period from 2011 to 2016, we figure out that Internet finance measured by P2P lending and the third-party payment has a negative impact regarding profitability of these banks. Additionally, as can be observed, the third-party payment has had a more significant negative impact on banks than P2P lending. A mechanism of the influence that Internet finance has on banks is offered in our results. Further, based on the robustness test, it’s indicated that city and rural commercial banks and non-listed banks are more easily affected by the Internet finance.

Keywords: Internet finance, P2P lending, the third-party payment, commercial banks

Slobodan Popović - Geopolitical Position of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization within the Belt and Road Initiative


This paper will analyze the geopolitical position of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) within the controversial, pretentious, and grandiose Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The paper shall be made of three parts. The first part will tackle geopolitical schools that exist amongst Chinese academia and policymakers. Our attention will be focused on the debate on the geopolitical thoughts which occurred after publishing China`s first military strategy in 2015. The second part of the paper will tackle the institutional development of the SCO. This Organization stems from the Shanghai Five mechanism which China initiated in 1996 and which was supported by Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, by Uzbekistan in 2001 and by India and Pakistan in 2017, respectively. By analyzing the institutional development of the SCO, readers will be able to understand how the SCO fits or, even, reinforce Chinese geopolitical ambitions. The third part of the paper will explain the role of the SCO in the Silk Road Economic Belt, that is, in the part of space that Mackinder defined as Heartland. At the same time, we cannot ignore the upcoming role of the SCO in Chinese maritime geopolitical ambitions, that is, in the space of Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific. Still, different historical backgrounds, individual interpretation of security interests, asymmetric levels of development amongst member states of the SCO are factors that produce political and economic mistrust within the SCO. Additionally, economic and trade globalization enhances two parallel trends. On one side, it enhances the flow of goods, people, services, and capital, and on the other side, it reinforces the vulnerability of borders and the flow of terrorists. Those challenges require pragmatic, flexible, and bold approaches which should be based on respecting the interests of the SCO member states and the guiding principles of the SCO.

Keywords: Belt and Road Initiative, New Security Concept, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Geopolitics, Asia-Pacific, Indo-Pacific