The Obama administration ‘pivots’ to Asia, reinforcing its regional alliances and shoring up its hegemony. The Gillard government waltzes towards the Asian century, promising bliss and prosperity as Asia becomes the centre of the global economy. But neither the pivot nor the Asian century doctrines address the key question: how will the dominance of the region planned in Washington (and endorsed, explicitly or implicitly, by Canberra, Tokyo and other capitals) be reconciled with the emergence of Asia, and especially China, to such centrality? The Gillard White Paper vision notes that Asia rests on ‘the US’s alliances and partnership with Japan, South Korea, Australia and other regional states’, and its ‘guarantee of extended deterrence’ (that is, US nuclear weapons). Can Asia be simultaneously Washington dominated, nuclear secured, and Beijing centred? Can the prerogatives of the declining hegemon be reconciled with the aspirations of the rising power?
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