Reflections

China Softens Its Approach in Southeast Asia

May 13, 2017 | 17:25 GMT
A member of China's honor guard waits to receive Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 11.
A member of China's honor guard waits to receive Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 11. During their meeting, the two leaders discussed enhancing their countries' cooperation in the South China Sea.
(WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

As countries in Southeast Asia puzzle over the direction of U.S. policy in the Asia-Pacific, Chinese development deals appear to be tilting the regional balance of power in Beijing's favor, at least for now. North Korea has commanded much of Washington's attention recently, enabling China to make headway in bilateral discussions with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ahead of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative Forum. The two-day conference -- which aims to showcase China's progress on its signature multinational economic development campaign -- kicks off on Sunday. And in the runup to the event, meetings between China and South China Sea claimants Vietnam and the Philippines suggest that Beijing's more conciliatory approach to managing regional tensions is paying off....

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