Over the past five years, Beijing has adopted a much more assertive military and diplomatic approach in Southeast Asia. While one could reasonably expect this to negatively affect China’s standing in the region, the opposite is the case. China’s influence in Southeast Asia has soared, largely at the expense of the United States.
The China that is reemerging onto the world stage after its multiyear pandemic shutdown is very different than the one that launched the Belt and Road Initiative a decade ago. Beijing seems interested in reshaping its role as an international development partner. The results of those efforts could transform global development itself.