A Bangkok-based NGO is organising a workshop on to discuss NGO strategy towards Chinese investments overseas. Both Chinese and Southeast Asian NGOs that have experience monitoring overseas investments of their countries, or Chinese investments in Southeast Asia, are invited, and discussion will focus on how Chinese and Southeast Asian NGOs can cooperate to promote good governance in these projects. The workshop will be by invitation only, presumably with the intention to keep a low profile and avoid stirring up negative reactions in China that would be adverse for the participating organisations. (I have deleted the name of the NGO and the dates of the meeting at the organisers’ request, presumably reflecting the same concern.)
It is notable that the initiative is clearly geared at direct bilateral civil society contacts without the mediation of Western organisations (the only reference to anything Western in the meeting brief is one to the “destructive effects of investment experiences from Western companies”). This is an approach that has been suggested by many activists and scholars writing on the “China in Africa” topic as well and promoted in the Southeast Asian context by Oxfam Hong Kong and International Rivers. So far I have not seen evidence of mainland Chinese organisations directly working with Southeast Asian NGOs. This would certainly be an interesting development.