The simmering strategic rivalry between the US and China is entering a new, and more dangerous phase that will recast the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific region and pose increasingly difficult policy choices for the next government.

After an extended period of policy confusion and vacillation about how to respond to China’s determined thrust into the Pacific and Indian Oceans, Washington is now pushing back with surprising vigour. Blunt warnings about the unacceptability of China’s land reclamation activities in the South China Sea and desire for regional hegemony are flowing thick and fast from the Pentagon along with military assistance to Southeast Asian countries, many of which have had a contentious relationship with the US in the past.

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