China-US relations: a clash of values that could ‘turn out badly’

China-US relations: a clash of values that could ‘turn out badly’

China and the United States are locked in a conflict over values and will not easily overcome their differences, according to the American academic who coined the term the “Thucydides trap”.

In an online panel organised by the Institute of China-America Studies on Thursday, Graham Allison, founding dean of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, said China and the US were in a Thucydides dynamic, his term for the tendency for war when a “rising power threatens to displace a ruling power”.

“I think it’s actually clear that if China realises the Chinese dream, Beijing will displace the US from positions of leadership it has become accustomed to during the ‘American century’, especially in this neighbourhood,” Allison said, referring to Asia.

“China will be the only big economy that will be bigger at the end of 2020 than it was at the beginning. Everybody else is shrinking. So unless China can find a way to constrain the natural impulses, this will turn out badly.”