Over the last two or three years Xi Jinping has sketched a vision of the future for the Asian region in which China will be at the hub of an integrated series of maritime and continental "Silk Roads" that will also reach beyond Asia to Europe and perhaps further afield. Xi envisions China as playing the key role in organising, financing and constructing the new forms of connectivity, which will underpin this vast putative economic region. China's border regions and adjoining countries will benefit particularly not only economically, but also in helping to stabilise their societies.
Several problems may be seen to emerge from this vision: No mention is made of the different security issues that bedevil China's contemporary relations with nearly all its neighbours, nor is there recognition of the disparity of views between China and most neighbouring countries about the character of their relations, either past or present. Xi also ignores the significance of the so-called "Asian paradox" by which most Asian states seek to balance their deepening economic ties with China with closer security links with the United States. The implication of Xi's declared new policies for Asia is that he seeks to cultivate a new model of great power relations with the United States while simultaneously reducing American influence in China and in East Asia.
Supported by the University of Sydney's China Studies Centre.