By John Kell and Alan Murray
September 21, 2015

These are interesting times to be in Asia, with economics taking a back seat to security. I was in Tokyo Saturday when the Japanese parliament overcame fist fights and protests to alter 70 years of pacifist policies. Then I flew to Seoul, where government officials expressed concerns about Japan’s change, even though it is partly designed to provide assistance to the U.S. in the event of a North Korean invasion of the South. Also in the news: the Philippines is debating the return of the U.S. Navy.

 

At home it’s clear cyber security, not economics, will dominate Obama’s talks with Xi Jinping (some progress on that front reported here). Meanwhile the would-be leader of the opposition, whose anti-China bombast shows no sign of abating, has recommended the President cancel his state dinner and buy President Xi a hamburger instead.

 

History suggests periods of hegemonic change, like the one we are now living through, often lead to war. Will this time be different? Evan Osnos, one of the most astute journalistic observers of China, provides the compelling reason why it might: trade between China and the U.S. has grown from $2 billion in 1979 to $592 billion last year. But it is still hard to imagine how the world makes it through this touchy transition without some rough patches.

 

On Wednesday in Hong Kong, I’ve been invited by the Asia Society to debate the motion: “RESOLVED: The American Century will give way to the Asian Century on or before the year 2041.” Which side would you take? Send me your thoughts by email.

 

More news below.

 

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

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