A dragon-shaped lantern in Anhui province. The Chinese characters on the board in front of the lantern read "Diaoyu Islands," referring to the disputed islands called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan.
Courtesy Reuters

At times in the past few months, China and Japan have appeared almost ready to do battle over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) Islands --which are administered by Tokyo but claimed by both countries -- and to ignite a war that could be bigger than any since World War II. Although Tokyo and Beijing have been shadowboxing over the territory for years, the standoff reached a new low in the fall, when the Japanese government nationalized some of the islands by purchasing them from a private owner. The decision set off a wave of violent anti-Japanese demonstrations across China.

In the wake

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