The Asia-Pacific region is the center of dynamism in the international system, and events there are defining the security and prosperity of the world. Increased economic interde- pendence and a budding institutional architecture create a solid foundation for a vibrant and stable future, but the region also faces an array of challenges that could destabilize the security environment. For over six decades the U.S.-Japan alliance has been the corner- stone of security and stability in the Asia Pacific, and it should continue to play an important role in shaping the regional order.
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.
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