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China, U.S. in Long March Toward Possible Confrontation

November 4, 2009
By Robert K. Ackerman
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China and the United States are constantly redefining their relationship in a dynamic that could lead to conflict if both sides are not careful, according to a leading U.S. Asia-Pacific expert. Dr. Denny Roy, senior fellow and supervisor of POSCO Fellowship Program, East-West Center, warned that the evolution of this relationship matches past patterns that have led to confrontation. Speaking in a panel on the Pacific Rim at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009, being held in Honolulu, Hawaii November 2-5, Roy said that the implications of the rise of China are extremely profound. What is particularly worrisome is that the situation that both nations are marching toward is similar to past patterns of what he calls "a hegemonic transition." This involves the rise of a new power that can replace an existing power as the dominant one. This transition can be dangerous because the older hegemonic power has the incentive to start a war so that it does not lose its power. Conversely, the rising power has the incentive to start a war so that it can realize the fruits of its efforts sooner. Roy emphasized that China is not Nazi Germany nor fascist Japan in the 1930s. Plus, China does agree with many basic U.S. tenets of global relations, such as free trade. But, China does not support democracy movements throughout Asia. It would like to reduce the importance of the U.S. dollar in global trade. And, China does not like the U.S. security alliances throughout the region, Roy said.

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