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Simmering Fire in Asia: Averting Sino-Japanese Strategic Conflict

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Abstract:

The rapid deterioration in Sino-Japanese relations in recent years has raised geopolitical tensions in East Asia and could embroil China and Japan in a dangerous strategic conflict that could be threatening to U.S. interests. China's rise, Japan's growing assertiveness in foreign policy, and new security threats and uncertainties in Asia are driving the two countries increasingly further apart. Political pandering to nationalist sentiments in each country has also contributed to the mismanagement of bilateral ties. But Japan and China are not destined to repeat the past. Their leaders must ease the tensions, restore stability, and pursue a new agenda of cooperation as equals. For its part, the United States must play a more positive and active role.

In the last two years, the ties between Beijing and Tokyo have been severely damaged by a series of crises and incidents, and domestic sentiments are increasingly hostile toward each other. Given the economic and strategic importance of Japan and China in East Asia, the downward spiral of Sino-Japanese relations poses a major threat to the region's peace, stability, and prosperity, and to U.S. interests in the region. In a new Carnegie Policy Brief, Simmering Fire in Asia: Averting Sino-Japanese Strategic Conflict, Senior Associates Minxin Pei and Michael Swaine analyze the underlying strategic dynamics of the recent events in Asia.