A controversial new book by Australian defense analyst Hugh White is challenging American military dominance in East Asia and suggests a war could break-out between China and the Japan over the Senkaku Islands this year.
The China Choice: Why America Should Share Power suggests that the U.S. has three choices: compete, share power or concede leadership.
White, a professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University and a visiting fellow at the Lowy Institute, suggests the U.S. can no longer maintain primacy in the region.
So what’s the problem with White’s book? Nothing. Leading specialists are heaping praise on it. Robert Kaplan, author of The Revenge of Geography, called it the “finest synthesis to date of all the major questions facing East Asia.” Kaplan said “the author’s conclusions will satisfy no one, which is as it should be.”
White argues that the U.S. should try to accommodate China’s growing power. The U.S. should be willing to negotiate a new regional order in which it continues to play a major strategic role, but not the kind of primacy that it has exercised until now. The main reason? China no longer accepts U.S. dominance of the region or U.S. primacy as the basis for the Asian order.
Even if China is still not strong enough to dominate the region, it does have the capability of upsetting America’s primacy. “If America tries to perpetuate the status quo, there is a very real risk of an escalating contest which neither side could win, and which could very easily flare into a major, and perhaps catastrophic, war. The main reason for America to seek an accommodation with China is to reduce the risk of such a catastrophe.”