This introductory chapter focuses on the underlying sources of these recent challenges to the regional order; the implications of these developments for China, the United States and the region's smaller states; and the challenges these states have encountered in developing policy responses that contribute to both their national security and regional stability. Scholars understand that the most significant factor contributing to heightened regional instability has been the rise of China. Although China has yet to catch up to the United States in security affairs and its future is uncertain, it is clear that after nearly thirty-five years of economic growth and military modernization, China now plays a more significant role in East Asian economic and strategic orders and poses a greater challenge to U.S leadership.
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