Southerly wind in the lower troposphere is an essential feature of East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) circulation, which is reported to be enhanced under global warming scenarios and interglacial epochs. Based on an analysis of an ensemble of CMIP6 models, this study shows that the magnitude of intensification of the EASM circulation is much smaller under global warming scenarios than during interglacial epochs. Distinct changes in the western North Pacific subtropical high (WNPSH) are responsible for the different responses of the EASM circulation. The WNPSH is substantially enhanced during interglacial epochs, which acts to strengthen the southerly wind associated with the EASM on the western flank of the WNPSH. However, the change in the WNPSH is insignificant and cannot strengthen the EASM under global warming scenarios, and the weakly enhanced EASM circulation may be a direct response to intensified heating over the Tibetan Plateau. The land–ocean thermal contrast explains the different responses of the WNPSH. During interglacial epochs, the summertime surface warming over the subtropical North Pacific is much weaker than over Eurasia due to the large thermal inertia of the ocean to increased insolation, and the WNPSH is intensified as a response to the suppressed latent heating over the subtropical North Pacific. The fast response of the WNPSH to abrupt quadrupling of CO2 without sufficient ocean warming is an analog to the interglacial epochs, but it is offset by the effect of slow oceanic warming, resulting in an insignificant change of the WNPSH under global warming scenarios.