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PacNet #16A – The Implications of China’s Active Defense Strategy

It seems axiomatic that the East Asian regional dynamic is dominated by the rise of Chinese power and the relative decline of US influence, although this perception may be stronger than the reality. Nevertheless, this dominant view was reinforced – probably inadvertently – by the Obama administration early in its tenure when it triumphantly declared that “America has returned to Asia.” While it is the right of any new administration to differentiate itself from its predecessor through policy and tone, the framing of US strategy in Asia as a “return” to the region reinforced unjustified criticism among many Asian nations that the United States had somehow retreated or withdrawn its interests and presence in this critical region.