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China and Japan's Simmering Rivalry

Courtesy Reuters

THE GREAT ILLUSION

China and Japan, the giants of Asia, account for nearly three-quarters of the region's economic activity and more than half of the region's military spending. Despite their deep economic ties and a doubling of their bilateral trade in the past five years, their relationship is increasingly strained, with dangerous implications for the United States and the world at large.

Historically, relations between Japan and China were clearly structured. One country was always more prosperous or powerful than the other. Before the nineteenth century, China was usually dominant; since the Meiji Restoration, in 1868, Japan has generally been preeminent. The prospect that China and Japan could both be powerful and affluent at the same time has only recently emerged, largely because while China's economy and influence have grown rapidly, Japan's have remained stagnant. China has nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and its military budget has grown by double-digit

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