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Malcolm Turnbull has often said China's assertive actions in the South China Sea are "counterproductive", because they scare its south-east Asian neighbours. But scaring the neighbours is only counterproductive if China's primary aim is to make friends. If its aim instead is to challenge American leadership by displaying its growing power and its willingness to defy US demands, then acting tough makes perfect sense.
Read China's island-building project a bid for power, not popularity.