is no accident according to Harvard scholar Ezra Vogel in the following interview. I could even liberally interpret his remarks that the Chinese delegates attending international conferences these days, e.g., are more forward-looking and speak better English than the US counterparts.

University of South Carolina, Japan Considered, Interview with Ezra Vogel
The Future of the United States' Role in Asia

RCA: That makes sense. Does the United States still have a role to play in the Japan-China relationship?

EV: I think it should be encouraging both of them to get along with the other, and for us to try always to keep them in balance, and to avoid things that tend to provoke hostility between the countries. Whether we have a role to play as a mediator, Ifm not sure. I think that as academics we certainly can play that role. Ifve helped to hold conferences, for example, looking at World War Two, where Chinese, Japanese, and Western scholars worked together. And I think itfs easier for scholars in those countries to take part when therefs a third party organizing it, than when it is the other country. But whether the government can really play a balancing role, think there are a lot of people who have questions about that. But they can certainly do a lot around the edges to encourage the countries to get along with each other.

RCA: Do you see the American role in Asia overall declining relative to its Cold War importance?

EV: I think that it is declining in several ways. First of all, in public opinion, itfs lost the publics, I think, pretty much all around Asia, except maybe the Philippines. Unlike Europe, the leaders in Asia have been more willing to cooperate with the United States, and have been less critical of the United States on issues like Iraq. But if you look at the public opinion polls, they have the same trends that they have in Europe. So, wefre losing popular support.

Secondly, I think that Chinafs influence is increasing, and not only because of its economic power. Now, places like Korea and Japan trade more with China than they do with the United States. So, thatfs a big c. Our leverage over Japan, Korea, and other countries is not what it was.

But in addition, China has done a wonderful job of training English language speakers who can take part in international conferences. So at conferences in Asia, now you find a lot more forward-looking Chinese with good English than you will find Americans taking part in those conferences. So, I think in all those c. Partly because we have concentrated so much on the military side of our role, and wefre concerned so much with terrorists, that we havenft played as big a general role, thinking about economic development in Asia as we did, say, twenty or thirty years ago. So I think all of those things helped the U.S. decline in its role and also has given more leeway, particularly to China.

Current Research and Publication Projects

RCA: In closing, can you tell us about your current research projects and upcoming publications.

EV: Well, Ifve worked on two conferences on World War Two, with others. We hope to have those get published. One is on local variations in the Japanese occupation of China in World War Two. The other is on the military history of World War Two. The first one Ifm doing with Steve McKinnon and Diana Lary. We just finished sending off those papers to a press. Mark Peatie is working with me on trying to get out the other volume, on the military history of the China War. So those are group projects where Ifve played more the role of organizer and sponsor than intellectual gadfly.

The big research project Ifm trying to work on is the era of Deng Xiaoping in China. Because as I think of my role, it's to help educate the American public about changes. And just as I decided to write Japan as Number One to try to wake us up to what was happening in Japan, I think that what the American public needs to know now is not that China is going to become a big power. They already know that. But they need to have a better understanding of how much change has been taking place. So I picked Deng Xiaoping, who is the great leader who brought these changes. And Ifm working on the changes that he brought as a way of trying to help Americans understand how much China has changed. So thatfs the big project Ifm working on now.

RCA: Thank you for all of this time.

(C) University of South Carolina, College of Arts and Sciences Department of Political Science