China and Japan’s power struggle is good news for Southeast Asia?
The Japan-China rivalry in Southeast Asia is good for the economic development and strategic autonomy of Southeast Asian states. This is particularly so for the poorer countries of the region that harbour the greatest fears of becoming solely dependent on China.
China and Japan are fully engaged in a strategic rivalry for influence in Southeast Asia with infrastructure financing as one of the major bases of competition. Cambodia is one of the most willing partners of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s Eurasia-spanning Belt and Road Initiative. All Southeast Asian countries are founding members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Partnership for Quality Infrastructure initiative is focussed on Southeast Asia and India. In 2016, all ten Asean states received Japanese aid, even oil-rich Brunei and Singapore. Vietnam, the region’s most reluctant partner in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, received over half of the $3.17 billion Japan gave in aid to the region that fiscal year — over four times more than Thailand, over 15 times more than Cambodia and over 30 times more than Laos.
Fortunately for Southeast Asia, post-war Japan has seen the region as its key economic and strategic hinterland. Japan remains the largest source of foreign direct investment and official development assistance, in stock and flow terms, in developing Southeast Asia. Speaking of which… Japan’s Shinsei Bank has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with blockchain startup ConsenSys to widen its exploration of the technology’s applications for finance.
Blockchain is becoming a key focus of Japan’s traditional financial sector, with multinational IT firm Fujitsu announcing late October its plans build an interbank settlement platform using blockchain technology as part of a joint project with nine domestic banks.
HOW ABOUT CHINA?
Throughout the past 24 hours, several publications and public figures have misreported that China has put an end to its blanket ban on bitcoin and the cryptocurrency exchange market.
In October, as CnLedger, a trusted news source in China reported, the Chinese court confirmed that Bitcoin is protected by law as property. As such, individuals, businesses, and merchants can technically utilize cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum as a payment method without conflicting with local regulations.
Giving a peace on mind… There are still lots of blockchain development catching up to bring heat into Southeast Asia.
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