China's Rise and Australia–Japan–US Relations
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China's Rise and Australia–Japan–US Relations

Primacy and Leadership in East Asia

Edited by Michael Heazle and Andrew O’Neil

One of the most pressing policy challenges for Australia and Japan today is ensuring that China’s rise does not threaten the stability of the Asia-Pacific, while also avoiding triggering conflict with their largest trading partner. This book examines how Australian and Japanese perceptions of US primacy shape their respective views of the Asia-Pacific regional order, the robustness of Asia’s alliance system, and the future of Australia-Japan security cooperation.
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Chapter 3: What does America seek in Asia? Refuting the Pacific primacy myth

Van Jackson


Why does the United States seek military superiority in Asia? This chapter compares evidence from US Asia strategy during the Obama and Trump administrations with general indicators of a primacy strategy. It finds little evidence to support the claim that the United States seeks primacy in Asia, and proposes that for the United States, military superiority is an issue of force structure planning, involving long-term capability development. The ability for the United States to prevail in plausible conflicts against Asia’s next-strongest power is essential for a range of grand strategies that are more modest in scope and intention than one of primacy. The distinction is important because if President Trump or any future US administration does decide to seek primacy in Asia, it would mark a significant break from, not continuation of, US strategic and foreign policy traditions in the region.

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