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China: The Giant Awakens : Thought From Neighbors

June 15, 1993

Shinobu Omiya, saleswoman for a magazine, Japan

"I've been fearful of China, since my childhood when . . . I developed a strong image of China as a huge mass of people in military-like uniforms riding bicycles . . . I thought it would be scary if China attacked Japan. Another reason I'm afraid of China is its size, not only its land but its population and its resources. China has great hidden potential power. Once the power emerges, Japan will not be able to compete."

Lee Sang Woo, political science professor, South Korea

"In a broad sense, we feel close to China, but we've always been afraid of them. Culturally, we've been influenced by them; historically, for 2,000 years we've fought more than 200 wars. . . . The future course of the East Asia order will be determined by that axis between Tokyo and Beijing, and we are sandwiched between the two giants. It's a very difficult position to be in."

Blas Ople, senator, Philippines

"I think most of us in the Philippines see China as a benign giant. It's beginning to come into its own. There's a widely shared belief here that China's economic success will have the effect of stabilizing that country and preparing it for a responsible role in the region and the world. It's entitled to a military force that comes with its great size."

Keiji Niwa, printer, Japan

"Since China is such a big country, it may take a long time to develop. . . . For their economic development they need leaders with clear visions for their future. If they stumble like the former Soviet Union, it will accelerate world disorder, but I think this possibility is small because Chinese have wisdom accumulated over 4,000 years. Even though the Japan of today wouldn't have existed without China, Japanese have tended to look down on Chinese. Japanese should change their attitudes toward Chinese and treat them equally as they do Westerners."

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