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Power and Primacy

Abridged and Updated Edition

A.B. Abrams

Today the Asia-Pacific region stands on the verge of major change, with centuries of western dominated regional order being seriously challenged and quite possibly nearing its end. The emergence of a potential new order dominated by regional rather than extra-regional powers - an «Asia for the Asiatics» in the words of Japan’s pan-Asian scholars - means it is now more than ever essential to understand the history of the current western-dominated system, the full implications should it continue and the nature of the West’s intentions towards the region.

This book undertakes the task of elucidating the complex and little-known history of western intervention in the Asia-Pacific, providing information critical to understanding contemporary developments

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Chapter 17

Western Militaries in the Asia-Pacific Today: Part I – China’s Rise and the End of the ‘Anglo Saxon Lake’


The Pacific is now an Anglo Saxon Lake.

— General DOUGLAS MACARTHUR on the new Asia-Pacific regional order following the defeat of the Japanese Empire

America should write the rules. America should call the shots. Other countries should play by the rules that America and our partners set, and not the other way around.

— U.S. President BARACK OBAMA on his vision for the future of the Asia-Pacific region in the twenty-first century

The Western Bloc has sought to contain the influence of China since 1949, when the fall of the client Guomindang government and declaration of the new People’s Republic threatened their hegemonic interests in Asia. Isolating China became a priority which involved numerous military, diplomatic and covert efforts. Western influence throughout the region was used to forestall prospects for an Asian power bloc forming around the new Chinese republic, much as they had been used to isolate Imperial Japan beforehand. Indeed, the nature of the threat posed by Imperial Japan was in many ways similar to that posed by China from 1949. U.S. Admiral William Leahy noted of the Japanese Empire that it posed an imminent danger to the West because it had the potential to ‘succeed in combining most of the Asiatic peoples against the whites.’1 President Roosevelt too ←587 | 588→feared this unification of Asia under Japan, particularly after Asian leaders met in Tokyo in 1943 to declare their solidarity in the pan-Asian cause, noting: ‘1,100,000,...

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