China’s Economic Power Unsettles the Neighbors
China has long claimed to be just another developing nation, even as its economic power far outstripped that of any other emerging country.
Now, it is finding it harder to cast itself as a friendly alternative to an imperious American superpower. For many in Asia, it is the new colossus.
“China 10 years ago is totally different with China now,” said Ansari Bukhari, who oversees metals, machinery and other crucial sectors for Indonesia’s Ministry of Industry. “They are stronger and bigger than other countries. Why do we have to give them preference?”
To varying degrees, others are voicing the same complaint. Take the 10 Southeast Asian nations in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, known as Asean, a regional economic bloc representing about 600 million people. Through September, they ran up a collective $74 billion trade deficit with China. That is a sharp reversal of the surplus those nations enjoyed in most recent years, and it is prompting some rethinking of the conventional wisdom that China’s rise is a windfall for the whole neighborhood.