China stokes region's schizophrenia
At the recent Asean meetings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as Asean chair rejected calls for the inclusion of the South China Sea issue in a joint communique. It was a move that many said was the result of China's close economic ties to the kingdom.
Mr Parag Khanna, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), said countries around the world are now more into "multi-alignment".
"Australia and South Korea have a deep economic relationship with China, but still (have) very strong traditional relationships with the US.
"This creates an almost universal schizophrenia… we're in this fluid period when countries want to play all sides at the same time," he told delegates at an SIIA conference last week.
It is true that China's diplomatic machinations - and the resultant strategic schizophrenia among traditional friends and allies of the US - could lead to a sea change in the region's balance of power that could be destabilising.
That said, China cannot be blamed for seeking to tweak the balance of power game in its favour. One can even imagine that China would have come out with exactly the same policy if some American neo-conservatives were in charge in Beijing.
One thing is certain, however. Washington may be patting itself on the back with the rebalancing back to Asia. But the Chinese can teach the Americans a thing or two about winning friends and influencing people.