The three countries, China, Japan and South Korea are playing a big role in the economic development of the region for sure, but with time and with the rise of China, it is Beijing that is playing a bigger role in terms of investment and development.
Asean plus three is still important for the Asean but with China’s dominance, so to say in the last decade or two in some countries within the Asean, we can say that China is having an upper hand in the reshaping of the Asean.
Nevertheless, Japan is still the soft power in the region, getting more involved in education and in aiding communities in countries like Cambodia and so on.
South Korea is now a major exporter of its cultural revolution but it also has some big investments in the region.
But all these do not match the Chinese involvement in the construction and we can see there are massive construction projects ongoing in the Asean with Chinese support and money.
China is also the dominant force in the region in terms of investment in railroads, in infrastructure development like in Malaysia or Indonesia. These have in some way, given the Asean plus three a different role.
At one point, the APT was one of the most comprehensive cooperation frameworks in the region, and APT cooperation continues to be broadened and deepened in a wide range of areas, including political security which is a major issue nowadays for the Asean. But today it looks more likely that without China, the APT would not be the same.
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