01/27/2014 10:11 am ET Updated Mar 29, 2014

Blowup in the East China Sea?

The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in Davos last week that the current tensions between Japan and China were like those between Great Britain and Germany that ignited World War I. His comments were controversial only because he blurted out publicly what everyone already thinks.

The WorldPost asked political leaders as well as top strategists and analysts from the US and around the region -- Japan, South Korea, Australia and China itself -- to address the looming conflict as well as the broader issue of how the rest of the world should cope with China's rise.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of America's leading strategic thinkers, warns Japan to abstain from provocative acts and reminds the Chinese that US military strength is vastly greater than theirs. Yoichi Funabashi, the long-time diplomatic correspondent and former editor of Asahi Shimbun, worries about a new "domino effect" in East Asia if the US doesn't stand by Japan. Like Funabashi, analyst Ian Bremmer asks whether US allies can still trust America to keep its commitments.

Nayan Chanda of YaleGlobal doubts whether the short-term politics of American democracy can stand up to the long-term strategic determination of China. Former South Korean foreign minister Yoon-Young Kwan echoes Prime Minister Abe, citing key parallels between 2014 and 1914.

Former Australian prime minister Paul Keating calls on the US to share power with China in the Asia-Pacific region and calls on China to outline clearly the international role it intends to play -- a role that must make Japan feel secure.

Finally, Zheng Bijian, the long-time doyen of the Central Party School in Beijing and author of China's "peaceful rise" doctrine, puts China's strategic choices in the context of its interdependence within the global economy. Yan Xuetong, one of China's top foreign policy thinkers, echoes Zheng Bijian's view of seeking convergent interests instead of conflict.