Southeast Asia’s New Best Friend

While the US focuses on its expansive “war on terror,” Chinese trade in Southeast Asia grows rapidly, jumping by 20 percent in 2005, more than twice the US rate. Rather than disdain other Asian cultures, China reaches out to overseas ethnic Chinese to celebrate a mutual heritage. The nation’s influence is revealed by Thailand’s increasing exports to China, Manila museums celebrating Chinese-Filipino heritage and China’s status as the largest single trading partner with South Korea. Beijing’s diplomacy to Asia can be summed up in one reassuring sentence, according to journalist Tyler Marshall: “Let’s get rich together.” He suggests that the US is negligent about its relationship with countries of Southeast Asia, with US officials delaying trips and missing meetings. So far, neither the US or China have forced conflicting political demands on any country. But with its reputation for inattention, the US could quickly lose economic and political leverage in a vital region and, Marshall cautions that China could step in as replacement, more by default than design. – YaleGlobal

Southeast Asia’s New Best Friend

China is making impressive economic inroads where the US once had all the clout
Tyler Marshall
Thursday, June 22, 2006

Click here for the original article on The Los Angeles Times website.

Tyler Marshall, a former correspondent for the LA Times, visited Asia in May on a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times