China is using a dispute over a small group of uninhabited islands in the East China sea to sow chaos among the friends and allies of its greatest rival in the region, the US, Professor Hugh White says.
In this video Professor White, a strategic studies expert at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, discusses what he perceives to be China's vision in the region, during a visit to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington.
"I do think China is very determined to build what it calls a new model of great power relations," he said.
That didn't necessarily mean dominating the Asia Pacific region.
"But I am sure it wants to play a much bigger, more equal role with the US."
That in itself placed China's objectives on a direct collision course with those of America, Professor White added.
He believes Beijing is deliberately using a dispute over the Senkaku-Diaoyu islands, in the East China Sea, to press its case for a fundamental shift in the way the region works.
"I think what they are trying to do, is use (the dispute) to demonstrate to America's friends and allies, that the United States is not willing to confront China on those issues, in support of its allies.
"As China ramps up the pressure on the Senkaku's, they are hoping to feed Japan's uncertainties about whether the US in the end, is willing to confront China on those issues."
As such, Japan's confidence in its alliance with the US had weakened.
"And that weakens America's position in Asia," Professor White said.
"It weakens the US leadership. And in the zero sum logic of this game, enhances China's position."
Professor White was recently awarded an AO for distinguished service to international affairs through strategic defence studies.
Video courtesy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.