The complexity and history behind the current tensions in Asia Pacific are belied by simplistic narratives underpinned by superficial nationalism. China’s portrayal across the Western media as a regional “bully” versus its victims across Southeast Asia is dividing the general public down two sides of a predictable line.
On one side are those who welcome the rise of China as a counterbalance for longstanding Western hegemony across Asia Pacific, on the other are those that fear China will simply replace a “benevolent” Western hegemony with its own brand of regional domination.
Somewhere in the middle lies the truth, but to arrive there, one must understand the true nature of the unfolding, and very unnecessary tensions in the South China Sea.
The Pacific, and in particular much of China and Southeast Asia, was under the control of colonial European powers with Britain controlling Malaysia, Myanmar (then called Burma), and parts of China, and France controlling Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.
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