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Flashpoints on the Periphery: Understanding China’s Neighborhood Opportunism

How is China taking advantage of the pandemic to pursue its foreign policy goals?

Tensions in China’s periphery have increased dramatically over the past few months as Beijing stepped up the use of military and diplomatic tools within its neighborhood. The frequency of the events involving Chinese actors, especially in the second half of March, increased as normalcy started returning to the mainland after the COVID-19 pandemic’s outbreak.

This raises a few questions. First, is this evidence of China’s opportunism at a time when the United States is struggling to maintain its presence in the East and Southeast Asian regions? Second, has Beijing adopted a more aggressive approach for the post-pandemic period? Third, would the recent spike in activities impact the regional order?


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