A recent Pew Research Poll made clear that publics in East Asia are increasingly uneasy about the destabilizing effects of China’s maritime assertiveness. Among the eight countries surveyed—including China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam—majorities in each country said they were concerned that territorial disputes between China and its neighboring countries could lead to a military conflict.
Rather than “China threat theory,” an oft-used phrase in Beijing to deride anxieties about China’s rise, it appears we’re now seeing “China threat reality.”
Though difficult to poll with similar fidelity, there is little question that governments in the region are at least as concerned as their publics and have already begun taking measures to prepare for, and if necessary defend against, further Chinese attempts at economic, military and diplomatic coercion.
Strategies for responding to Chinese assertiveness certainly differ from capital to capital, but all can be characterized as portfolio strategies that simultaneously pursue multiple avenues to deal with a country that has overwhelming advantages in size and wealth.
More from CNAS
Opportunities and Challenges for Trade Policy in the Digital Economy
This hearing addresses digital trade, and I will focus my testimony on the national-security problems in this area posed by China – specifically, concerns about China’s open a...
By David Feith
Taking on China and Russia
Today Washington has chosen, perhaps by default, to compete with—and if necessary, confront—both Russia and China simultaneously and indefinitely....
By Richard Fontaine
Crafting Transatlantic Responses to BRI, with Lisa Curtis, Jacob Stokes, Josh Fitt, Carisa Nietsche, and Nicholas Lokker
Nine years after the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s flagship global infrastructure investment program is at a critical juncture. While many countries were ini...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Lisa Curtis, Carisa Nietsche, Joshua Fitt & Nicholas Lokker
To defeat autocracy, weaponize transparency
Democracies have a significant advantage in weaponizing transparency at scale to highlight autocratic activities that break international norms or inflict damage on local econ...
By Ryan Fedasiuk & Garrett Berntsen