China is following the same path to regional hegemony that Japan did in the 1930s.
.. Implicit in the 205-minute harangue were echoes of the themes of the 1930s: A rising new Asian power would protect the region and replace declining Western influence.
.. In the 1930s, Imperial Japan tried to square the same circle of importing Western technology while deriding the West. It deplored Western influence in Asia while claiming that its own influence in the region was more authentic.
Only about 60 years after the so-called Meiji Restoration, Japan shocked the West by becoming one of the great industrial and military powers of the world.
.. Japanese engineering students returned home with world-class expertise in aviation, nautical architecture, and ballistics — and a disdain for the supposed “decadence” of their mentors.
.. By 1941, Japanese super-battleships, fleet carriers, and fighter planes looked almost identical to British and American models. Often they were just as good, if not better.
.. Satellite Asian clients were expected to overlook Japanese bullying and imperialism in exchange for the advantages of trickle-down wealth from a rising Japanese economy and the paternalistic security offered by the Imperial Japanese Navy and ground forces.
.. China is currently following the Japanese model of the 1930s and early 1940s. All the parallels are there: claims of Western decline, appeals to pan-Asian solidarity, the bullying of neighbors, visions of a Chinese-led trading and currency bloc, new westernized Chinese weapons, and boasts that Beijing has combined the best of both Western technology and superior Asian discipline to become the superpower of the future.