BEIJING — Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s proposal to create an “East Asian community” along the lines of the European Union has effectively sparked a leadership race between Japan and China in shaping the future of one of the most quickly developing regions in the world.

The East Asian community plan has drawn attention since Hatoyama floated it in a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao in New York on Sept. 21, only five days after taking office and launching his Democratic Party of Japan-led government.

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