Trade numbers cut China down to size

Despite assumptions to the contrary, hard data on regional trade and investment activity show a China-dominated Asian Century is far from inevitable.

In recent conversations last month with government officials, policy wonks and businesspeople from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia about their country’s political and strategic future, I received the distinct impression that the implications of China’s rise was at the forefront of their minds. Although only a couple of people used these words, a widespread perception is that China’s ‘economic domination’ of Southeast Asia is already happening and all but assured. Wary as they remain about China’s rise, the Middle Kingdom will be too seductive and overwhelming an economic partner for old strategic alliances and partnerships to survive in their current form into the future.

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