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  William Vocke    Special to The China Post
In 1961, China and North Korea signed a treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance that provided for either country to go to the assistance of the other if attacked by a third country. It was a military alliance with a difference — it had no termination date, an alliance that was meant to last forever.
Since mid-January, tensions over the disputed islands in the East China Sea known as Diaoyu in China and as Senkaku in Japan have noticeably declined, largely as a result of conciliatory words and actions by Japanese political figures visiting China.
China, with US$3 trillion in its foreign reserves, is looking for investment opportunities around the world; surprisingly, perhaps, it is discovering that its money is not welcome in certain countries.
The territorial dispute between China and Japan over a group of islands in the East China Sea continues to worsen, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warning Beijing over the weekend not to try to change the status quo in which the uninhabited isles are under Japanese administration and the Chinese responding that Clinton's words would embolden right-wing forces in Japan and lead to further tension.
China's new leader Xi Jinping gave a major address recently in which he pledged to curtail power and investigate violations of the law so as to protect the rights of Chinese citizens.
China, the stellar developmental record of which over the last three decades has astonished the world, has been modest, even prudish, in pushing its growth model on other countries. Premier Wen Jiabao has said more than once that there is no such thing as a “China model” but that each country should choose its own developmental path.
Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” famously made a prediction in 2001 that the Communist Party would fall from power in a decade.
Shinzo Abe, widely viewed as a right-wing nationalist, assumes office this week as prime minister of Japan, the seventh time the country's leadership has changed hands in six years and his second turn at the helm since 2007.
China's dispatch of a marine surveillance plane into the airspace of islands administered by Japan appears to be part of a high-risk plan to create a situation whereby Japan's claim to effectively control the Senkaku Islands is put in doubt.
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New Chinese leader Xi Jinping is assuming the mantle of a reformer, visiting Shenzhen, adjoining Hong Kong, which pioneered China's economic reform movement more than 30 years ago, on his first trip outside of the capital.
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