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Monday, August 09, 2010

Concerned about China's rise, Southeast Asian nations build up militaries

Washington Post -John Pomfret: Concerns in Southeast Asia about China's rise were on display in Hanoi in mid-July during a regional security forum that included the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the United States, China and other Asian powers. During the meeting, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for the first time effectively rejected China's claims to sovereignty over the whole 1.3 million-square-mile sea. Eleven other nations, led by Vietnam, backed the United States, leaving Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi noticeably shaken by the offensive, diplomats present said.

For years, experts have predicted that China's "soft power" and growing economy would allow it to dominate the region. But as China's diplomacy turned more aggressive, the region has defied those predictions and looked to Washington for help.
"Rather than using the rise of China as a strategic counterweight to American primacy," concluded a report by Australia's Lowy Institute for International Policy this year, "most countries in Asia seem to be quietly bandwagoning with the United States to balance against China's future power potential."

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