Money and security: China's strategic interests in the Mekong river basin , London, GB Chatham House 11pp.
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Since the end of the Cold War, China has turned away from an exclusive focus on great-power relations and is now cultivating its relations with the countries and institutions of Southeast Asia.
China is pursuing regional cooperation in order to improve bilateral relations, gain political support in international forums, insulate itself against US strategic interests and obtain raw materials for its economy.
In the Mekong area these issues are concentrated in a small and geographically well-defined area. Its strategic relevance was spelled out in China's 2002 white paper on national defence.
While China is by far the strongest economic, political and military power in the Mekong Basin, its geographical position reinforces this asymmetry: as the source country of the Mekong river, China has control over the development of water resources, therefore exercising a degree of 'hydrohegemony'.
Consequently, the area is a focal point for traditional and non-traditional security conflicts, where resource competition is adding new layers to deeprooted, old and complex relations.
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