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Expert says Southeast Asian countries shifting to China instead of US

A trend for closer ties between Southeast Asian countries and China has emerged, an expert says
Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein
Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China
© AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

SINGAPORE, March 13. /TASS/. The behavior by small Asian countries indicates that Washington’s influence and role in the region is on the decline, Alexander Korolyov, a leading researcher at Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, told TASS.

"If we look at them [Southeast Asian countries], we see that there are a lot of concerns, besides, they are not sure that the US is still as powerful as it used to be," the expert noted. Against this background, "a trend for closer ties between these countries and China has emerged, though it is just the beginning, this trend has not taken full shape yet," Korolyov stressed.

According to him, "in this case, the logic of the balance of power comes first: in the past, Southeast Asian countries’ policies focused on the United States taking into account its investment capabilities and military power. But China has been rising lately, it has already become the major partner for all these states."

Meanwhile, in Korolyov’s words, "China and Vietnam can be expected to come closer to each other despite their acute contradictions over the South China Sea." "Both countries are willing to continue cooperation instead of closing doors. In this regard, Russia can play a significant role as it is an important partner for both the two countries," the expert added.

"Only Singapore falls out of line, since it has been strengthening its pro-American stance in recent years," Korolyov said adding, however, that this process might not be long-lasting. According to the expert, "on the one hand, the US is Singapore’s ally, but there is no consensus on the matter in Singapore. A part of the political elite focuses in the US but political circles are unable to agree if it is worth souring relations with Beijing in order to get closer to Washington."