China Stupid if It Wants to Take Primacy in Asia from the US

I have just posted National Interest’s article titled “Is China Really That Dangerous?” on May 25 that believes, “Even a more powerful PRC would not easily threaten the United States. Projecting force across oceans and continents is extraordinarily expensive. Deterring use of such force is relatively cheap.”

However, the next day, National Interest published Robert D. Blackwill’s article titled “China’s Strategy for Asia: Maximize Power, Replace America” on China’s “goal of recovering from the United States the primacy it once enjoyed in Asia as a prelude to exerting global influence in the future.”

As I am not Chinese leaders, I do not know whether China has such goals now, but what China has been doing has proved Mr. Blackwill wrong in regarding China as having such a goal.

In my opinion, China will be very stupid if it has such goals.

First, the US has no primacy at all in Asia. That certainly has nothing to do with whether China has the goal to pursue such a primacy. The largest and militarily strongest country in Asia is Russia. Has the US primacy in Russia? Certainly not. Russia is invading Ukraine and interfering with Syria. US is unhappy but can do nothing to stop Russia.

Does China have primacy in Russia? Certainly not. China refrains from being the leader of China- and Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and prefers to have Russia as its leader. As a result SCO is led jointly by China and Russia.

We can say that SCO has primacy in Central Asia and greater influence than the US in Pakistan and India that have recently joined SCO. Iran has shown great interest in joining SCO. Has the US primacy in Iran, an inveterate enemy of the US?

Perhaps the US may draw India to its side in the future, but do not forget US-led TPP hurts India interests. US wants to contain China by its TPP, but China wants to conform to TPP’s stringent rules and join TPP while India utterly does not want to join TPP and would rather that there is no TPP at all.

The US has no primacy whatsoever in the parts of Asia to the west and north of China!

Perhaps, Mr. Blackwill meant East and Southeast Asia. The US cannot control Japan though it regards Japan as its major ally in containing China. US Vice President Biden tried hard for an hour but failed to persuade Abe to refrain from visiting Yasukuni Shrine. As a result, not only China but also South Korea was upset. Abe simply broke the iron triangle of US, Japan and South Korea, the major alliance that the US depends on its presence in Asia.

Now, South Korea is closer to China with its free trade area with China while it has not joined US-led TPP.

With Russia opposing the US, North Korea as US enemy and China the US fails to contain, the US has no primacy at all in East Asia.

As for Southeast Asia, only the Philippines in ASEAN is US ally while some ASEAN members firmly support China and the others would not take side between the US and China.

Where is US primacy?

China will be stupid if it has the goal to seek primacy in Asia as it must know that it cannot have primacy in Russia, Japan or India.

China has to live in reality, but certainly Mr. Blackwill and quite some Americans like Mr. Blackwill can live in their dream of US primacy in Asia as long as it makes them happy.

Perhaps, Mr. Blackwill meant military primacy. True, the US has world strongest military, but that does not mean that US has military primacy. One has military primacy when it can achieve its goal with its military strength, better scaring others and less better in defeating others with such military strength.

The US has failed to achieve its goal with its powerful military in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. It now can scare no one in Asia.

In spite of its tremendous economic and military strength, the US is unable to have primacy in Asia. It is then ridiculous if China wants to replace the US for the primacy the US does not have. In fact, China will become a laughingstock if it wants primacy in Asia. As I have pointed out above, China cannot have primacy even in one of the three Asian powers Russia, Japan and India.

Try to be realistic!

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Robert D. Blackwill’s May-26 article “Beijing’s big goals, and how Washington can counter them” on National Interest, full text of which can be viewed at


2 Comments on “China Stupid if It Wants to Take Primacy in Asia from the US”

  1. Fre Okin says:

    China should welcome US Economically in Asia. Let everybody compete peacefully.

    With regard to the phony ‘security’ US claim China threaten others, China should highlight US danger to the real security in the South China Sea. There was a suggestion if China lose in PCA arbitration and refuse to honor it, China should be dragged before UN.

    If this happen, China should highlight US Nuclear Danger to the South China Sea and nations around there. US harm the security and economic well being of people living there if war break out since US submarines and aircraft carriers are nuclear powered. Radiation leakage from them will poison the fishes there making them unfit for human consumption. This is very real as China have the capability to sink US submarines and aircraft carriers.

    So China and even her enemies like Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia should push for a Nuclear Free Zone in the South China Sea, especially The Undersea, No Submarines to ensure their own interests are taken care of instead of US ‘security and FON’ story telling.


  2. Steve says:

    The primacy the US has been seeking since the announcement of it’s pivot to Asia are 1) Military Conspiracy rather than Alliances by establishing Asian bases or logistics to land it’s airforce planes and 2) perform FONOPs to demonstrate it’s heroic superpower military status of sheer Dominance.

    In very short terms of expression — “Conspiracy and Dominance”. With these two C & D, the US hope to lure countries to procure it’s military weaponry, whilst destabilising the Asian region with provocative behaviour, words and deeds. With it’s gunboat diplomacy, the US hope to rewrite rules in the SCS, but unfortunately to no avail.

    With the C & D firmly established (unfortunately not), the US further establish the TPP which of course is a secretive, multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement.
    Originally, China was not invited nor included into the TPP, but ‘out of good faith’, has opened its doors for China to join. Such hypocrisy.

    Irrespective of primacy or not, China is best known for its economic prowess and should further rise to the Zenith as the world’s economic powerhouse. Furthermore, China will continue with its military doctrine in research and development to an unsurpassable level, that is, decades ahead of its nearest rival.