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China’s Trouble with the Neighbors

BEIJING – China’s “good neighbor” policy is under unprecedented pressure; indeed, it is at its nadir since the Cold War’s end. One after another, frictions with neighboring countries have arisen recently.

From the territorial disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea to tensions with Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand, relationships that were sound, if not always friendly, have now soured. Myanmar’s decision to shelve the Chinese-backed Myitsone Dam project shocked China. Likewise, the killing of 13 Chinese boat crewmen on the Mekong River in October serves as a stark reminder that China’s presumably peaceful southern land border, which has been untroubled for nearly 20 years, today resembles the most hostile sort of neighborhood.