Whatever the current state of the US-China trade war, Asia’s geopolitics are fast becoming more contentious. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping may have made some progress towards compromise at the recent G20 summit in Buenos Aires, but both the substance and timing of next actions remain in doubt — and there’s a real risk that Trump, in need of a political win at home, will simply declare victory and walk away without resolving long-term sources of conflict. In the meantime, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and his willingness to take trade action against US allies in the region even as he picks new fights with Beijing, have created more space for an increasingly ambitious China to expand its commercial and political influence. Trump’s explicitly confrontational approach to Beijing resonates with many of China’s neighbours. Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and many others are concerned that China’s growing economic clout is shifting the region’s balance of power in ways that...

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