China, Japan and Regional Leadership in East Asia
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China, Japan and Regional Leadership in East Asia

Edited by Christopher M. Dent

This book considers themes, evidence and ideas relating to the prospects for regional leadership in East Asia, with particular reference to China and Japan assuming ‘regional leader actor’ roles. Key issues discussed by the list of distinguished contributors include: • the extent to which there is an East Asian region to lead • China–Japan relations • different aspects of Japan and China’s positions in the East Asia region • how the seemingly inexorable rise of China is being addressed within the region • how China and Japan have explored paths of regional leadership through certain regional and multilateral organisations and frameworks • the position of certain ‘intermediary powers’ (i.e. the United States and Korea) with regards to regional leadership diplomacy in East Asia. Invaluably, the concluding chapter brings together the main findings of the book and presents new analytical approaches for studying the nature of, and prospects for leadership in East Asia.
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Chapter 5: China’s Place in East Asia

Steve Tsang


Steve Tsang INTRODUCTION The spectacular rise of China in the last decade raises the question of where China’s ‘rightful’ place is in the world in general and in East Asia in particular. When Chiang Kai-shek led China to victory against Japan in 1945 he was satisfied that China had secured a place as one of the five great powers holding a permanent seat at the Security Council of the United Nations. For him China had found its rightful place in the new world order. Four years later, as Mao Zedong drove Chiang out of the mainland of China and led the Communists to power he had a much grander ambition. He intended to restore China to the pre-eminent position it enjoyed for much of the previous two millennia, even if this required working within and making use of the Soviet bloc (Tsang, 2006a). The legacies of the ‘century of humiliation’ have been since then largely if not completely eliminated.1 This applied particularly after the product of the Chinese Empire’s first humiliating defeat by the West, the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Nevertheless, the Chinese government has not completely removed the psychological complex associated with its view of modern history. The legacy of a ‘victim mentality’ is still discernible in China.2 This notwithstanding, whether Mao’s grandiose ambition remains alive today is debatable. China and its leadership’s assessment of the world have undergone significant changes following the generational succession in leadership after Mao’s...

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