It's Pilates diplomacy: work on your core. China's diplomats keep talking about China's core interests and it's a growing list. In 2011, China included its political system and social stability as core interests. This year, it has added a vast chunk of the South China Sea to its core.
China's certainly appearing more assertive in defining and defending that growing core.
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Has it achieved its goals? From what I've seen, the answer is an emphatic "no." A decade of cultivating the image a of a friendly neighbor intent on a peaceful rise appears to have been squandered. Vietnam, the Philippines, Mongolia, India, Myanmar are have all had run-ins with China over territorial and business disputes. There's a growing sense that China is starting to act like a bully and that's given the U.S. an opening. So, instead of strengthening China's role, China's foreign policy has ended up creating a new opportunity for the U.S. in the region. Oops.