Balance of Power: China’s Long Gameby and
China is slowly winning the long game in Southeast Asia. As the Trump administration sends mixed messages about its commitment to the region, China is wooing more and more countries with a mixture of investment and trade.
Take this weekend's summit in Manila. Regional leaders seemed content to set aside tensions over Beijing's claims in the South China Sea, noting “improving cooperation” over the disputed waters.
The better mood coincides with China's push for Asian nations to conclude a trade deal by the end of the year that excludes the U.S. It comes just months after Trump provoked deep irritation in the region by pulling out of a separate trade agreement that was in the works for a decade. His administration has also put Indonesia and Thailand on a trade abuse watch list.
That gives an opening to President Xi Jinping, who has often spoken of China's return to great power status. Trump has been unusually lavish in his praise of Xi in interviews for helping him on North Korea. But he will also have to get used to China chipping away at America's post-war military and economic dominance in the region.
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