Sino–Japanese political antagonism is, in part, driven by a clash between two “anti-status quo” powers. Ironically, both China and Japan, despite being neighbours, may view “the other” as an anti-status quo power threatening its own status, interests and aspirations in East Asia. Both are major Northeast Asian powers with their own concepts of regional and global order but their preferred orders invariably clash with each other. Apparently, China seeks to become a more complete great power while Japan aspires to be a “normal” state. The vector of these two national trajectories may well result in tension and conflict, threatening the regional status quo and leading to a new order in international affairs.