Asia's Anti-Imperialism

Casting Off the Yoke

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Most Asian countries have traditionally been in thrall to either the U.S. or China but growing confidence in the region is making them more independent. With China seeking to enhance its influence, this is increasing the risk of conflict in the continent.

  • Facts


    • U.S. President-elect Donald Trump reignited tensions in Aisa last week when he broke protocol to speak with Taiwan’s president.
    • The U.S. has in the past had unchallenged access to Asian waters but this is changing as China flexes its military muscle.
    • Chinese efforts to dominate Asia are likely to annoy big, independently minded countries such as India.
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A satellite View of the Crescent Group of Islands
China has raised tensions in Asia and beyond by fortifying disputed islands in the South China Sea. Source: Getty

Is this the first taste of a dangerous future? When Donald Trump spoke to the Taiwanese president last week, he hit a sensitive spot in China. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a renegade province; any recognition of Taiwanese independence is considered a hostile act.

Beijing lodged a protest. Mr. Trump responded defensively at first, then cheekily. Statements from his advisers suggested the affront was deliberate.

The incident didn’t affect trade relations or cause troop movements. But the next American president will enter office under a self-created cloud of Chinese mistrust, in a poisonous atmosphere between the two most powerful countries in the world.

The Asian region between India, Australia and Japan is a peculiar mixture of calm and risk. It isn’t chaotic like the Middle East or parts of Africa, with a landscape of failed states, fleeing refugees and unleashed terrorism. On the contrary: Prosperity and self-confidence are on the rise here in a mood of historical optimism.

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