Meanwhile, in recent weeks, Vietnam has deployed several armed vessels to forestall China’s efforts to sabotage its energy exploration activities in the Vanguard Bank, an energy-rich area within Hanoi’s EEZ that is contested by China
China may be able to strong-arm each of its neighboring polities on a bilateral basis, but Beijing is bleeding credibility and trust across the region. No wonder then, the majority of respondents across Asia still prefer the United States over China as a regional leader. Even in Hong Kong, American flags were proudly on display during the protests. As one of the participants said: “We are not fighting to gain anything, [but] we are fighting not to lose anything. I am worried about Hong Kong becoming China.”
Richard Javad Heydarian is an assistant professor in international affairs and political science at De La Salle University. He previously served as a policy advisor at the Philippine House of Representatives.