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Introduction | Developmental Assistance by South Korea and Japan
Published February 29, 2016
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The states of Southeast Asia are on the front lines of competition not only in regard to the balance of military and political power, as analyzed in Section I, but also with respect to their economic orientation. China understands this well with its initiatives to join in FTAs as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), to build infrastructure, and to forge a maritime belt. Its economic clout is being utilized to reorient the region around China through trade, transportation, financial institutions, and reliance on development assistance. Japan has responded with greater emphasis on Southeast Asia, as it and the United States strive to complete an agreement for TPP with a number of the states in this region. How Japan uses official development assistance (ODA) is of increasing interest after Abe intensified diplomacy in the area and the competition with China has grown fiercer. In recent years South Korea also has strengthened development assistance to Southeast Asia. It too depends heavily on transport through the South China Sea, joins in ASEAN + 3 as a partner with the ten members of ASEAN, and has a large stake in the competition over this region. It seeks to become a model in the international community. Whether in sharing knowledge, providing assistance focused less on one’s own interests and more on the interests of the recipients, or seeking wide-ranging benefits for ASEAN, development assistance warrants increased attention in current conditions.

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