The Shangri-La Dialogue held here over the weekend was an opportunity for the United States and China to clarify their views of each other against the background of their trade war and other signs of rivalry between two of the world’s most powerful nations. Washington left no one in any doubt that it would resist the emergence of a challenger in the Indo-Pacific region that rose on the basis of its ability to undermine the rules-based international order. The target of that criticism was clear, given that a US Defence Department report on its Indo-Pacific strategy, released during the Shangri-La meeting, refers to China as a revisionist power that seeks regional hegemony in the near term and global pre-eminence in the long term.

Although there is nothing inherently wrong with any country seeking to improve its international status, how it does so is critically important. Subverting the rules-based order, should a country do so, would amount to challenging not just the US but also all countries that have a stake in a stable, secure and prosperous world.

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