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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 18

Western Militaries in the Asia Pacific Today: Part II – China’s Twenty-first-century Confrontation with the West


It was Europe’s entrenched relationship with violence and militarism that allowed it to place itself at the center of the world. … Europe’s distinctive character as more aggressive, more unstable and less peace-minded that other parts of the world now paid off.1

— PETER FRANKOPAN on the rise of the Western-dominated world order

The implementation of the Obama Doctrine and subsequent ‘Pivot to Asia’ represented not only an attempt by the United States to remain the Pacific’s dominant military power, but also a critical part of a wider policy of ‘containment’ of China similar to the Western Bloc’s Cold War efforts to ‘contain’ the Soviet Union before it. While containment has been implemented ever since the Western aligned Guomindang government lost power in 1949, the rapid growth of Chinese economic, military and soft power in the twenty-first century has led to a redoubling of efforts to limit the effects of its rise and thereby ensure continued Western dominance of Asia. This was certainly how China interpreted the move to station more U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific and strengthen defense ties with Chinese neighbors – reinforcing the already formidable remnants of Cold War era deployments made to encircle the People’s Republic at ←631 | 632→a time when it was considerably less powerful both economically and militarily. As Chinese Premier Hu Jintao remarked in 2012 regarding his country’s growing sense of encirclement, the United States had ‘strengthened its military deployments in the Asia-Pacific region, strengthened the US-Japan military alliance,...

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