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ASEAN, Not Africa is Becoming The Primary Venue for the U.S.-China Great Power Struggle

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addresses counterparts at the virtual ASEAN-China summit in Hanoi on November 12, 2020. Nhac NGUYEN / AFP

Three decades after the last Cold War ended, African leaders are understandably concerned they’ll once again get swept up in great power rivalry, this time between the United States and China. But there’s little indication that either Washington or Beijing has any plans to make Africa a primary battleground in their increasingly acrimonious feud.

Instead, Southeast Asia is now emerging as the primary front in this burgeoning great power rivalry. And as the new Biden administration recalibrates U.S. foreign policy to dedicate less attention to China in places like Africa, there’s growing pressure on the White House and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to focus more of its resources on confronting China in the ASEAN region.

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What is The China-Africa Project?


The CAP is passionately independent, non-partisan and does not advocate for any country, company or culture.


A carefully curated selection of the day’s most important China-Africa stories. Updated 24 hours a day by human editors. No bots, no algorithms.


Diverse, often unconventional insights from scholars, analysts, journalist and a variety of stakeholders in the China-Africa discourse.


A unique professional network of China-Africa scholars, analysts, journalists and other practioners from around the world.