Transitions from State “Socialism” in Southeast Asia
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This chapter explains the way Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam underwent transitions from state socialism following the Cold War, and why this has involved only very limited economic and political liberalisation. It shows that the privatisation of public land, natural resources and state-owned enterprises and the opening of closed economies to foreign investment provided opportunities for elite coalitions of state, business and military actors to sustain authoritarian regimes. Thanks to Cold War legacies and ongoing authoritarian repression, civil society has proved unable to effectively contest this. Where protests have occurred, they have been relatively feeble, with slogans recalling the nationalist rhetoric of the past. However, widening inequality, ongoing disruptive infrastructure schemes, and a burgeoning young population are long-term trends that portend future legitimacy struggles.
KeywordsPost-communist transition Political economy Cambodia Myanmar Laos Vietnam
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