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When U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership this past January, many observers saw that decision as a boon for China.As China's neighbors grow increasingly dependent on the Chinese market, the logic suggests, America's influence in the region will gradually decline.Former U.S. President Barack Obama's administration understood the far-reaching geopolitical consequences of China's economic dominance in East Asia. Obama and his advisers had hoped that, by creating a new U.S.-centered trading bloc, the TPP would counter China's clout and preserve American military and economic primacy in the world's most dynamic region.One group of countries will undoubtedly jump on the Chinese bandwagon, hoping that closer ties with Asia's future hegemon will give them what the U.S. provides now. This bloc includes countries ruled by autocratic regimes that have no ideological or territorial disputes with China, such as Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos.Other countries have already adopted a hedging strategy, whereby they maintain close security relations with the U.S. while taking advantage of China's enormous market.
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