China, the European Union and the Developing World
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China, the European Union and the Developing World

A Triangular Relationship

Edited by Jan Wouters, Jean-Christophe Defraigne and Matthieu Burnay

China, the European Union and the Developing World provides a comparative analysis of Chinese and EU influence across five different regions of the developing world: Asia-Pacific; South and Central Asia; the Middle East and North Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa; and Latin America. While there is broad acknowledgement that the importance of China is rising across the developing world, this book offers a comprehensive and comparative account of the relative increase of the Chinese presence in the various different regions. It highlights its impact on the relationship between the EU and the developing world regions and shows how the rise of China affects the relations between these regions and Europe.
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Chapter 3: The EU-ASEAN economic relations and China-ASEAN economic relations

Wenjia Wang


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) states have a long history connecting them with both China and the European Union (EU). The tributary system has marked China’s relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors for three millennia. Due to geographic proximity, China views Southeast Asia both as its traditional sphere of influence and as a strategic backdoor through which a hostile outside power could penetrate and disrupt China’s development. Europe built its first direct commercial linkages with Southeast Asia in the 15th century (Dixon, 1991: 58). Europe subsequently turned its relationship with Southeast Asia from one based on simple trading to one where it controlled the supply of the most valuable products, replacing China as the dominant force in the region. Most Southeast Asian countries succumbed to European colonialists: Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei to Britain; Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to France; Indonesia to the Netherlands; and the Philippines to Spain and then the United States.

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