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In a carefully crafted statement, Xi laid out China's vision for a new regional security order – one in which, as the slogan suggests, Asians are in charge.Xi's statement marked a significant departure from China's long-standing position on America's presence in the Asia-Pacific region.Since the U.S.-China rapprochement four decades ago, China has maintained a studied ambiguity regarding America's role as the guarantor of Asia's security. On the security front, however, China has made much less headway in turning its "Asia for Asians" vision into reality.Underlying the "Asia for Asians" trope may be China's belief that the U.S., not its own behavior, is to blame for its neighbors' defiance.Most of China's neighbors, even North Korea, fear an unconstrained Chinese hegemon – and, if the U.S. security presence were eliminated, that is precisely what they would face. "Asia for Asians" would be "Asia for the Chinese". It is difficult to imagine that Chinese policymakers, known for their sophistication and realism, could be pursuing a strategy that is not only unlikely to gain support from fellow Asians, but also is guaranteed to spark conflict with the U.S. Given this, it is likely – indeed, desirable – that "Asia for Asians" will remain a mere slogan.
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