China, much like Japan 75 years earlier, feels that the West would never accept it as a world leader, but its size and strength have given it increasing parity with the US, experts say
Twice in the 20th century, Japan challenged the West, first in a military-led attempt to become an imperial power and then as an industrial powerhouse. Now, it is China’s turn to take the global stage.
Seventy-five years after Japan’s surrender in World War II, and 30 years after its economic bubble popped, the emergence of a 21st-century Asian power is shaking up the “status quo.”
As Japan did, China is butting heads with the established Western powers, which increasingly see its growing economic and military prowess as a threat. In turn, China, again like Japan, feels the West is trying to limit its rise, fueling nationalistic sentiment among its public and leaders.
What has changed is the global landscape — postcolonial to start, and one of nuclear-armed states, global institutions and much deeper economic interdependence.
China’s goals are similar to Japan’s — to assert control in its immediate neighborhood while securing resources for its economic growth — but its means are different. Rather than imposing direct control through armed invasion, China is relying on economic enticements, cultural outreach and a gradual buildup of its military forces to boost its standing.