Beijing's head start over Biden in South-east Asia

There is a striking similarity in the titles of two prominent books published recently about China and South-east Asia – In The Dragon’s Shadow: Southeast Asia In The Chinese Century by Sebastian Strangio and Under Beijing’s Shadow: Southeast Asia’s China Challenge by Murray Hiebert.

“Shadow” is a metaphor, but also a physical reality of China standing tall at South-east Asia’s doorstep. This proximity, together with China’s cultural-historical ties and economic gravity, underlies the Chinese vision of a “community of shared destiny” with South-east Asia – a hierarchical regional order in which Beijing sees smaller states’ acceptance of its leadership and centrality as a natural way of things.

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