«China was, is, and will always be a good neighbor,» China’s leader Xi Jinping told ASEAN representatives in a November 2021 virtual meeting, after a series of conflicts over Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea had raised tensions.
But China’s neighbors aren’t always so sure, in an era of growing Chinese assertiveness under Xi’s leadership. China remains the top trading partner throughout much of Asia, but many individual Asian states seek to counterbalance China’s influence with stronger relations with the United States and, in some cases, with other regional powers. Some strive for a balance, and don’t want to be forced to choose one side or another.
Against this backdrop, the Task Force on U.S.-China Policy, a group of American scholars and former officials convened by Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations and the University of California, San Diego’s 21st Century China Center met in November at Sunnylands and talked virtually with journalists, former diplomats, and former senior government officials from around Asia, initiating a “transpacific dialogue“ that members hope will be an ongoing forum designed to increase U.S. understanding of Asian perspectives regarding China’s role in the region and around the world.