The Chinese often quote an ancient idiom when speaking about Japan – two tigers cannot live on one mountain. The saying underlines Beijing’s view that the two Asian superpowers’ tense competition is a zero-sum game, with only one winner possible. But the idiom misses one thing. Standing between these two nations, and alongside Tokyo, is Washington. Any confrontation between the world’s second and third largest economies would inevitably involve the US, itself locked in a geopolitical battle with China. This work tells the story of this trilateral relationship since 1971, when Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger opened China to the West, to Beijing’s emergence as a global player today.