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Fear of China is overblown

Don't let the hype about China make you fret. Bear these five points in mind.

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"When the Chinese become our overlords, will they be benevolent overlords – or horrific task masters?" The Daily Show host Jon Stewart made that joke three years ago, but American anxiety over China's rise is more intense today.

The good news is that our anxieties are often misdirected – we fret more about dying in rare plane crashes than in common highway accidents. Is the current Sinophobia also overblown?

When I give talks about my new book on China, people often ask me fearful questions about everything from Beijing's large holding of US Treasury notes to its military buildup. I try to put their anxieties in perspective with these five points:

1. We've had related worries before about other countries. American concerns about China's economic surge mirror ones we had in the 1980s about Japan, when it was rising in the global economic hierarchy and copies of the book "Japan as Number One" were selling briskly. And the original "Red Dawn" film, released in 1984, imagined an invasion of the United States by Soviet soldiers; in the remake they'll be Chinese.

Yet Japan's buying sprees of US landmark properties and other activities that worried us came to an end fairly quickly in the 1990s – and the Soviet Union imploded without landing troops on American soil.

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