For the last two decades, China’s neighbors have nervously looked on and wondered if a strong economy and increased military spending might create a China more willing to use force to solve territorial disputes. Those fears seemed to have been unfounded, as China turned out to be a relatively benign neighbor.
In 2010, all of that started to change. A dispute with Japan over a Chinese fisherman arrested for fishing in territory claimed by both countries quickly turned ugly, with widespread anti-Japanese protests throughout China. The protests were deeply nationalist in nature with evidence of tacit approval of the Chinese government.
“What is Behind China’s New Belligerence?” The Week, 7/3/2014.