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China sidelining US in Asia with growing economic clout

'Chinafication' in trade may let Beijing counter American geopolitical influence

Visitors walk outside the venue of the China Import and Export Fair in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, on Oct. 15, 2017.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Asian economies that once relied on the U.S. are reaching a turning point as China comes to the fore, a trend that may weaken Washington's ability to promote democracy and free markets.

The U.S., as the world's largest consumer market, was the dominant export destination for Asian countries for decades after World War II. But this has changed in recent years. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations exported more to China than to America in the decade following the global financial crisis. The bloc's China-bound shipments totaled $143 billion in 2016 -- 9% more than its exports to the U.S.

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