During their 45-year feud, America and the Soviet Union fought proxy battles all across the world. But the cold war was at its most intense in Europe, where the Soviets constantly worried about their satellites breaking away, and America always fretted that its allies were going soft. The contest between China and America, happily, is different from that. For one thing, the two sides armed forces are not glowering at one another across any front lines—although in Taiwan and North Korea each has an ally in a tense, decades-long stand-off with the other. Even so, in the rivalry between the two powers, there will be a main zone of contention: South-East Asia. And although the region has drawn up no clear battle-lines, that only makes the competition more complex.
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