For the United States, competing with China must now be our national priority, as indicated in multiple US high-level documents. But the US is not competing for its own sake.
Rather, the US is seeking to achieve specific goals that are of the utmost importance for Southeast Asia.
The US has a deep and abiding interest in the region’s fate. This is because the Indo-Pacific is more and more the world’s most important region, primarily because of the size and dynamism of its economy.
Any state that can set the terms of trade and write the rules of the road for the Indo-Pacific will do so for the world.
It is increasingly evident in Washington that China seeks to do just this by establishing its hegemony over the Indo-Pacific.
So empowered, Beijing would be able to shape trade and regional order to favour its prosperity, security, and political interests.
China does not seek to conquer territory for its own sake; rather, it seeks to have important decisions in the region be routed through Beijing.
Read the full article in the New Straits Times.