For much of the past 20 years, China sought to radically expand its presence beyond its traditional spheres of influence to new regions in Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East. China lent billions to countries in these regions and devoted considerable diplomatic capital to building political influence there as well.
But now, in this new era of Great Power competition with the United States and Europe, China is once again shifting its focus, this time closer to home in Asia. Its so-called “near abroad” is now by far the most consequential region for China both in terms of trade and, increasingly, new security challenges.
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