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Is China following Japan's prewar path in the South Pacific?

Beijing's growing clout in strategic region irks U.S., Australia

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks on a recent island-hopping trip to the South Pacific. Beijing wants to boost its influence in the region through infrastructure projects such as one near a sea wall in Fiji, left. (Source photos by AP) 

TOKYO -- China's drive to boost its influence in the South Pacific has set alarm bells ringing in major Western powers and revived uncomfortable memories of events in the strategically important region during the run up to World War II.

At that time it was Japan's southward advance that stoked apprehension and uncertainty in governments around the world. Now, parallels with modern China's growing assertiveness are spooking countries including the U.S. and Australia.

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