The course charted by China’s reemergence as a great power over the next few decades represents the primary strategic challenge for the U.S.-Japan security alliance and for the East Asian security landscape writ large. If China’s economic, military, and geopolitical influence continues to rise at even a modest pace during this period, we will witness the largest shift in the global distribution of power since the rise of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If China in the next 10 to 15 years surpasses the United States as the world’s largest economy, it will mark the first time in centuries that the world’s economic leader will be non–English speaking, non-Western, and non-democratic.

It will be important that the United States and Japan are guided by a common—or at least consistent—assessment of how China is using its growing power. Divergence among the major democracies and stakeholders with respect to assessments and responses to China’s growing role would be highly damaging to efforts to integrate China into the rules-based order that the United States, Japan, and other democratic allies helped to build in the Asia-Pacific region over the previous six decades and that has benefited China itself in so many ways. Both the United States and Japan have a stake in China’s success with myriad challenges ranging from breaking out of the middle income trap to fighting rampant corruption and rapid environmental degradation. Both the United States and Japan have a responsibility to work in concert to dissuade destabilizing behavior and encourage cooperation, transparency, and trust.

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