chapter  4
The ‘China threat’ conundrum in East and South-East Asia
WithAndrew T. H. Tan
Pages 10

In East and South-East Asia, the People’s Republic of China’s evident rise has posed a threat to the prevailing regional order which is dominated by the USA. China’s rise is certainly not a foregone conclusion given its own political, structural and environmental problems. In 2010 China surpassed Japan as the world’s second biggest economy, and is likely to surpass the USA by as early as 2025 should the current trajectory prevail. The vicissitudes of US-China relations since the rapprochement in the early 1970s, epitomized by President Richard Nixon’s landmark visit to China in 1972, is retold elsewhere, most notably and authoritatively in Henry Kissinger’s book On China, published in 2011. India is building impressive military capabilities including a very modern navy with conventional aircraft carriers, and is a rising economic power like China. The region’s response to China’s rise has been to practise a mixture of strategies—namely, hedging, engagement, balancing and bandwagoning.