A joke now making the rounds in Asia asks, "who is America's most effective diplomat in Asia?" The punch line brings knowing laughter: "'Mr. Beijing.' Yes, Mr. Bob Beijing is playing America's best hand." The joke's sting lies in the law of unintended consequences. Beijing's increasingly provocative moves include cutting a Vietnamese seismic-exploration ship’s cables, disrupting oil exploration, declaring the entire South China Sea under Chinese sovereignty and making some hitherto unpublicized but very sensitive challenges to Malaysia. All seem tailor-made to produce exactly what China says it doesn'twant: a de facto anti-China coalition backed discreetly by the United States and reaching from India to the Sea of Japan.