By Invitation

Confronting China: Fighting talk not enough

The danger for US allies is what may be asked of them as the Trump administration puts words into action

You could call it the Goldilocks doctrine. Ever since China's growing strategic power and ambition started to challenge the stable US-led order in the Asia-Pacific, America's regional friends and allies have hoped and prayed that Washington's response would be neither too cold nor too hot, but just right.

On the one hand, they have never wanted America to step back in the face of China's challenge and concede regional strategic leadership to Beijing. But, equally, they have never wanted the US to confront China so forcefully that it sparked an escalating strategic contest between the region's two most powerful states, because that might be even more dangerous than living under China's shadow.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2018, with the headline 'Confronting China: Fighting talk not enough'. Print Edition | Subscribe