In the last few years, several reassortant subtypes of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAI H5Nx) have emerged in East Asia. These new viruses, mostly of subtype H5N1, H5N2, H5N6, and H5N8 belonging to clade 184.108.40.206, have been found in several Asian countries and have caused outbreaks in poultry in China, South Korea, and Vietnam. HPAI H5Nx also have spread over considerable distances with the introduction of viruses belonging to the same 220.127.116.11 clade in the U.S. (2014–2015) and in Europe (2014–2015 and 2016–2017). In this paper, we examine the emergence and spread of these new viruses in Asia in relation to published datasets on HPAI H5Nx distribution, movement of migratory waterfowl, avian influenza risk models, and land-use change analyses. More specifically, we show that between 2000 and 2015, vast areas of northeast China have been newly planted with rice paddy fields (3.21 million ha in Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning) in areas connected to other parts of Asia through migratory pathways of wild waterfowl. We hypothesize that recent land use changes in northeast China have affected the spatial distribution of wild waterfowl, their stopover areas, and the wild-domestic interface, thereby altering transmission dynamics of avian influenza viruses across flyways. Detailed studies of the habitat use by wild migratory birds, of the extent of the wild–domestic interface, and of the circulation of avian influenza viruses in those new planted areas may help to shed more light on this hypothesis, and on the possible impact of those changes on the long-distance patterns of avian influenza transmission.