Cold War 2: Growing threat of China Indo-Pacific primacy ‘central challenge of our time’

China is going through tough times, due to a combination of an economic downturn and the impact of coronavirus. However, the coronavirus will likely pass and an expert on strategy and the Chinese military predicts the vast country will rebound quickly enough to challenge US strategic primacy in the hotly-contested Into-Pacific region.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Dr Malcolm Davis believes 2020s should be considered a “pre-war period”.

China is determined to challenge the US and end the US strategic primacy in the Indo-Pacific region

Dr Malcolm Davis

He told “China is determined to challenge the US and end the US strategic primacy in the Indo-Pacific region.

“At the same time, they’re determined to revise the rules-based international order that was established by the United States in 1945 and replace it with a new Chinese-lead order.

“They talk about a ‘community of common destiny’ and that’s essentially their perception of a Chinese-led regional sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific.


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“But I think it goes beyond that, globally – they have ambitions to dominate, at least at the political, diplomatic and economic level.

“So what you’re seeing is a China that is rising, challenging US strategic primacy and seeking to revise the existing rules-based international


Dr Davis believes this intensifying geopolitical and strategic competition between China and the United States is partly the result of long-harboured resentment against the West.

He said: “China still talks about the century of humiliation that existed between the First Opium War in the 19th century and the end of the Second World War.

“They want to overturn that century of humiliation and reassert China’s role as a new Middle Kingdom in the 21st century.

“And that’s the China dream, of a rejuvenated China – and the essential requirement for that dream to succeed is the ending of us strategic primacy in the Indo-Pacific region.”

In terms of geo-spatiality, the Indo-Pacific is understood as an interconnected space between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

The area’s expanse ranges roughly from the eastern shores of Africa to the western coast of the United States.

Given that the Indo-Pacific contains the world’s most crucial sea routes, the world’s most populous nations fuelling high energy demands on its rims and a stretch encapsulating finest global commons, the the is adjudged to be the centre of the globe in terms of politics and economics.

However, a China increasingly confident in staking a claim for Indo-Pacific primacy could be received as an act of war by the US, the military strategist has warned.

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Dr Davis said: “Obviously, the US is simply not going to accept this, so the US is now responding to this rising challenge from China.

“They have reoriented their strategic and defence policy away from a laser-like focus on terrorism, to start focusing on China, Russia and the prospect of a major power interstate war happening in the next decade with those two states.

“And so their defence policy and thinking, in terms of cost structure and type of capability development, is really being driven by that threat of major power war rather than the need to counterterrorism.

“What we are seeing is that fundamental shift in strategic policy level in the US, because the US recognises that certainly with China, it’s a long-term threat.

“And that’s where I think we’re headed at the moment: there is that intensifying geopolitical competition that’s going to just continue for coming years and that’s really going to be central challenge of our time.”

He added how China may only have one chance to make a bid for supremacy in this strategic and economically vital position.

Dr Davies said: “You can certainly make the case that the 2020s are probably the period of greatest threat.

“This is because China recognises the US can ultimately catch up in many areas and constrain their abilities to rise – so China has a limited window of opportunity.

“They need to make gains and they want to take advantage of American weaknesses whilst they exist.

“So I think the 2020s are going to be really critical – it’s a pre-war period.”

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