Four member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have made territorial claims in the South China Sea that conflict with China’s professed entitlement to all of the “islands and the adjacent waters.” Because the “ASEAN Way” is to make decisions by consensus, each member state can, in effect, veto what the group might otherwise decide. Prof. O’Neill will explore how China has used its financial power to divide ASEAN’s members in order to prevent them from acting collectively to resolve their territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea. He will compare China’s relations with Cambodia, the Philippines, and Myanmar in order to highlight the key role that a recipient country’s type of regime plays in enhancing or constraining Beijing’s ability to use aid, loans, and investments to influence the policies and politics of developing states. He will argue that authoritarian institutions facilitate Chinese influence while democratic institutions inhibit it.
Daniel C. O’Neill’s current project is a co-authored volume on the politics of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Southeast and South Asia. His new book, Dividing ASEAN and Conquering the South China Sea: China’s Financial Power Projection (2018), has been called “well-crafted and theoretically sound” by the highly regarded GWU Southeast Asianist Prof. Robert Sutter. O’Neill’s shorter writings have appeared in venues including Asian Survey, Contemporary Southeast Asia, the Journal of Eurasian Studies, and The Washington Post. Audiences have heard him lecture in, for example, the Philippines, China, and Kazakhstan. For three years running, the School of International Studies where he works named him “Outstanding Teacher of the Year.” His Ph.D. in political science is from Washington University in St. Louis.