China's tough stand on maritime territorial disputes, evident in the confrontations last year with the Philippines in the South China Sea and with Japan in the East China Sea, has endured through China's leadership transition and now marks an important shift in China's foreign policy. This has serious implications for its neighbours and concerned powers including the United States.
China's success in advancing its claims against the Philippines and in challenging Japan's control of disputed islands head the list of reasons why the new Chinese policy is likely to continue and perhaps intensify over the next year.
Few governments are prepared to resist. Over the longer term, a wide range of existing and potentially adverse circumstances at home and abroad could prompt Chinese leaders to see the wisdom in shifting policy again, perhaps moderating their approach to these neighbours.
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