Harsh V PantAs China managed to convince the ASEAN this week to move forward with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), great power politics was clearly the elephant in the room at the summit in Bangkok, Thailand. The US-China contestation was out in the open once again at the annual East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN was forced to respond to it in a manner where it has to balance the contending claims of two major powers.The Trump administration has overturned decades of political consensus in Washington about integrating China in the global order. It is now openly confronting China at multiple levels. Most significant of the problems is in trade where the tariff war between the two most powerful economic powers has escalated. China’s economy has been hurt and its growth rate has fallen. Despite a trade pact between China and the US on the horizon, the two powers are trying to shape regional geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific to their own ends.Close Yet where China managed to present itself as a positive actor trying to shape regional economic future via RCEP, questions abound about America’s commitment to the region and if ASEAN at all figures in Trump administration’s strategic… Read full this story
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