Who is Most Dependent on China?Bloomberg News
If (or when) China sneezes -- ranging from a sharp devaluation of its currency or protectionist measures to defend local industries -- Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia would be first to feel the chill, according to analysis from Natixis SA.
By contrast, Indonesia, India and the Philippines are rather more immune, based on trade, tourism and investment links that were collated by the French Bank's Hong Kong-based economists Alicia Garcia Herrero and Trinh Nguyen.
For those with the largest exposure to China, trade ties are the biggest link.
Tourism is another important factor linking the fortunes of Asia's smaller economies to their regional giant. In 2015, the number of Chinese outbound tourists climbed 14.5 percent to 35.4 million, according to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute. They spent $235 billion in 2015, Natixis said, and most Chinese tourists prefer to holiday in Asia with 60 percent of the trips to the region.
Still, those countries gaining most from Chinese tourists also experience a "heightened sensitivity" because that demand can rub both ways, Natixis said, citing the 20 percent drop in Chinese tourists to Vietnam last year after the two nations were embroiled in a spat over disputed territories in the South China Sea.
Another bond comes from China's projects like the “Belt and Road” initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. As China pumps money into the region, partly to export excess capacity, it's also increasing its soft power.
While providing a boost to growth, a more powerful China is also posing a dilemma for its neighbors who have to tussle between the need to assert their sovereignty without discouraging Chinese investors and spenders. That's a tough balancing act that's only going to get trickier as Chinese President Xi Jinping pursues his "China Dream" of increased economic and political clout.
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