Forum: The Power of Money

Calling the Tunes in Cambodia

by Ivan Franceschini

IT IS WITH THESE WORDS that the late gynaecologist-turned-actor Haing Ngor, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, describes that day in April 1975 when the victorious revolutionaries forced the whole population of Phnom Penh out of the city. The Chinese tunes he heard were only the latest testament of a close relationship between China and Cambodia that spanned several centuries.

Buying power: Alibaba in South-east Asia

by Qian Linliang

IN FEBRUARY 2018, China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba invested US$2 billion in Lazada — a South-East Asian online shopping platform with a major presence in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Already Lazada’s major shareholder (since 2016), Alibaba installed Lucy Peng, one of its cofounders, as the company’s CEO. Alibaba’s spokesperson said this latest move was part of the giant’s effort to ‘accelerate e-commerce development in South-East Asia and deepen Lazada’s integration into the Alibaba ecosystem’.1 That same month, its Alibaba Cloud opened a data centre in Indonesia. Whether this is an expansion of influence that consciously parallels China’s growing economic and geopolitical power, or simply clever business, is one question raised by Alibaba’s continued rise.