1. The US views China as a challenge that needs to be confronted, but for others, it’s complicated.
It has been evident for some time that the US views China as a challenge – if not a direct threat – in both economic and strategic terms. The strategy document is perhaps the clearest statement to date of the extent to which the US views China as a malign actor, especially in the Indo-Pacific:
2. Large portions of the US agenda are unlikely to be embraced.
The US strategy is predicated on the assumption that partners want to go where the US wants to lead. But to what extent do US objectives align with the interests of a broad cross-section of regional players?
3. The US has less to offer.
US influence in the region has historically derived from its economic relevance, its openness to trade, and the security provided by the US Seventh Fleet. We are now in a different world. The Indo-Pacific drives global growth and economic dynamism and the region can now be far more self-reliant. This is not just a story of China’s growth. ASEAN’s importance both as a production base and a market with a large and growing middle class is also increasing.