China is asserting a bold vision of itself as the pre-eminent power in East Asia, warning the U.S. and its allies against criticism of its conduct and expanding moves that raise tensions with less-powerful neighbors.

Its stepped-up rhetoric shows that China sees U.S. power in the region as waning even as Beijing’s aggressive moves appear to be bringing other nations together to counter China’s growing military and economic sway.

The latest sign of China’s growing assertiveness came over the weekend, when a top Chinese military official blasted the U.S. for challenging China’s behavior in the South China Sea.

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