November 15th, 2012
08:45 AM ET

The China Syndrome

By Fareed Zakaria

Asia's greatest geopolitical problem is that its two great powers–with the two largest economies and militaries–have an unresolved, bitter relationship. China and Japan have never had to occupy the world stage as equals. One has always dominated the other. For most of the past 500 years, China was the region's hegemon and Japan accepted its role as a distant satellite of the great Chinese empire. That changed in the late 19th century, as Japan became the first Asian country to modernize its economy and society and catch up to the West. After the Meiji Restoration, Japan's military strength grew, and in 1895 it defeated the Qing dynasty in China. One of the consequences of the war was that Tokyo formally annexed the Senkaku Islands. But their sovereignty has been in dispute for the past 40 years, with China asserting its historic claims and Japan its modern possession.

Over the past two months, both countries have acted in ways that could easily spiral out of control toward conflict. There are almost daily encounters between Japanese and Chinese ships as they patrol these waters. On dry land, riots and protests have taken place in both countries–with the populations in each getting more nationalistic. There have been few efforts by either government to defuse the situation and move toward a diplomatic solution. The U.S. is involved too, because it is bound by treaty to go to Japan's military aid if Japan is attacked, and Washington has confirmed that the Senkaku Islands are covered by this obligation. In other words, if one of these naval encounters goes awry and China and Japan get into a naval conflict, the U.S. could find itself involved in an Asian war.
For the full column at TIME click here

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Topics: China • Time

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. D. H.

    The United States is a Republic, not a democracy. Fareed, you need to understand the difference between the two and why the U.S. wants to remain a Republic. Start by studying the history of government going back to early Greek Democracy. Then, study the intentions of our founder fathers and what they knew about early forms of democracy. Yes, the election process can be better, but the States are an important part of our Republic. Shame on you CNN for allowing the error to lead the article.

    November 15, 2012 at 9:25 am | Reply
    • Maersk

      Fareed should concentrate on writing how the Indians finger their azz instead because this is what he does best.

      November 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Reply
      • JAL


        November 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  2. JAL

    Question: Is there any evidence that suggests the Bhengazi attack on the US consulate was the work of hired mercenaries?

    November 15, 2012 at 9:42 am | Reply
    • JAL

      Sorry, I know this article was about China...

      November 15, 2012 at 9:45 am | Reply
  3. thumbsihave2

    2 thumbs up to this column.

    November 15, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    The prospect of political reform in China looks more unlikely as most of the new leaders are seen as political conservatives. It will be interesting to see where China stands ten years from now. The new president Xi seemed relaxed, when he made his first speech and is widely seen as an affable person. He might no distant himself from Hu's reserved manner and adopt this "first among equals" style within the standing committee.

    November 16, 2012 at 7:55 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      please read: HE MIGHT DISTANT .....

      November 16, 2012 at 7:56 am | Reply

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