In a G-Zero World, Will China Dominate Asia?


'Even a powerful country like South Korea will be more and more influenced by Chinese views.'

  • A G-Zero World is coming, where the U.S. will be first among several other powers - but no longer global leader
  • China will become the second most important power and the leader of Asia, propped up by countries alienated by President Trump
  • Still, the extent of Beijing’s regional hegemony hinges on whether it can overcome an array of domestic and international challenges.


Last week, Bill Overholt of Harvard’s Asia Center, presented an intriguing case for why China will not replace the U.S. as global leader. Instead of a world led by China or the U.S., for that matter, Bill posited a G-Zero world, without any dominant hegemony. In contrast to...

  • A G-1 one world with one leader like the U.S.
  • A G -2 world would be a world where the U.S. and China were collaborating to create a world order, as to some extent they have been for a quarter century.

In the G-Zero world, the U.S. and China will be one and two, respectively globally. But...

  • China will be the regional leader in Asia.
  • We're not talking about everybody joining an alliance with China. That's not going to happen.
  • But, on trade issues, on local strategic issues, the Chinese voice is going to get stronger and stronger. 
  • And, even a powerful country like South Korea will be more and more influenced by Chinese views.

And as China consolidates its dominance in what it considers its backyard, there is no guarantee that long-time friendly Pacific powers like Thailand, Philippines, or even Australia will support the U.S. as they used to. Still, China’s regional hegemony is not a given. According to Bill, the extent of Beijing’s leadership will depend on Zhongnanhai’s...

  • Successfully implementing its ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative
  • Tamping down the quibbling over minor territorial issues with its neighbors, and
  • Completing economic – and, especially SOE - reform.

How will Beijing carve out a place for itself in this more anarchic reality? How will neighboring nations, who long have prioritized economic growth over military spending, respond to a new Chinese push for Asian domination? And, the crucial question: is war between China and the U.S. inevitable? Bill talked about this as well, so look out for our next episode of our conversion - this time on the Thucydides Trap (and about how this narrative might be missing the point, too) - later this week. But first, watch Bill’s provocative analysis below, and then let me know your thoughts.

William overholt

Bill Overholt

Senior Fellow at Harvard Asia Center 21 years' experience running Asia research teams for Nomura, Bank Boston, and Bankers TrustFormer Asia Policy Distinguished Research Chair and Director of the ...
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