SINGAPORE - Barbs and heated exchanges over territorial disputes and Japan's desire for a greater regional security role dominated this year's Shangri-La Dialogue.
But the real elephant in the room is the question of how best to accommodate a rising China.
For instance, how much influence should or could the United States, the dominant military power in the Asia Pacific, share with China?
How much of the existing rules of the road have to be adjusted for Beijing? And what new rules would it like to introduce?
There are no easy answers. Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told delegates at the forum's closing session yesterday that it was an issue the region was still "grappling with".
Professor Nick Bisley, of Australia's La Trobe University, added: "For a country like China, you can't just present it with a black or white option of (accepting or rejecting the status quo).
"There needs to be some serious discussion among the US and its allies about adjustment, but we haven't seen any sign of that at the Shangri-La Dialogue."
But the dialogue itself might be a good place to start thinking about some of the "adjustments" that could be made.