Courtesy Reuters

When President George W. Bush traveled to Asia last month for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum he found himself on unfamiliar ground--not just geographically, but diplomatically. Whereas American presidents have previously been star attractions at the annual economic gathering, this year Bush had to share equal billing with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The change signals that, after almost 60 years of U.S. dominance in the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing is emerging as a new powerbroker there.

Trade numbers help explain the transformation. Japan, the world's second largest economy, now imports more from China than from the United States, and China

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