China is playing for keeps in Southeast Asia

China’s new aircraft carrier
Dalian, May 6, 2017: China's first domestically built aircraft carrier marks another milestone in Beijing’s drive to extend its military reach far beyond the country’s shores (source: dpa)
  • Beijing is not going to relent in its pressure in the South and East China Seas
  • History explains China’s hegemonic tendencies in the 21st century
  • It is doubtful that Japan, the main U.S. ally in the Pacific, will be able to maintain its high security profile in the longer run
  • The West is going to focus on keeping goods flowing through the South China Sea, not on curbing China’s ambitions

In terms of both the world economy and politics, we live in the Asian era. In the 21st century, Asia offers the world tremendous business opportunities, but also harbors huge geopolitical risks. The most important confrontations will take place in Asia-Pacific, where the People’s Republic of China is striving to achieve hegemony.

There are numerous conflicts between China and littoral states of the South China Sea. Beijing has been insisting that these are bilateral disputes and that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the most important regional organization of states, has no role to play in resolving them. This is the sort of a position hegemonic powers tend to take in such circumstances, and it is entirely in keeping with China’s foreign policy since ancient times.

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