By Zhang Penghui
China and US can avoid the “Thucydides’ Trap” while strengthening bilateral exchanges at all levels, US scholar of International Joseph Nye told the People’s Daily on September 16.
Thucydides’ Trap refers to the likelihood of war between a ruling power and a rising one, a concept first posed by Greek politician Thucydides on the power dynamic between rising Athens and dominant Sparta.
Speaking on Sino-US relations, Nye stressed that China and the US will not fall into this “trap.” China, which plays a constructive role in the international community, would more likely improve world order rather than challenge it.
There has been concerns and debate in the US about the future of Sino-US relations in recent years. China studies expert David M. Lampton has described Sino-US relations as being “at a tipping point.”
In response, Nye said that while Lampton has many insightful viewpoints, saying relations are at a tipping point is “going a little too far.” “The US and China can further understand one another to avoid conflict.”
Thucydides said war between ancient Athens and Sparta resulted from the rising power of Athens and the fear it triggered in Sparta. However, Nye noted that relations between China and US are totally different.
“Now exchanges between China and the US have covered many levels, and Chinese tourists and overseas students in the US have served as bridges to connect people,” said Nye. “The two sides … can avoid Thucydides’ Trap.”
Nye explained that it is stupid to see China’s bigger role in international affairs as weakening the role of the US, citing the AIIB as an example. It was unknown during the early planning stages who opposed other countries joining the AIIB. Fortunately the Obama government has adjusted their AIIB policy.
In terms of the TPP, the US should warmly welcome China if it chooses to join in the future.
Speaking of the existing problems regarding Sino-US relations, Nye said that the two nations still need to strive for deeper understanding of one another and enhance mutual trust.
For example, China and the US hold different views on the issue of cyber safety, which is a reflection of insufficient mutual trust. The two sides should cooperate more on cyber safety instead of miscalculating each others’ stances. “US and China should strengthen exchanges to treat each other more objectively and rationally,” said Nye.
Nye also explained that the US has its own unique advantages and need not feel anxiety by China’s constant development. The US public and experts alike often exaggerate the China threat. It is wrong to exaggerate or downgrade China’s development.
Instead, Nye said we should look at China’s rise in context. It is easy to overreact to China’s development if we do not view it in terms of the country’s overall history.
Addressing power transfer, Nye said he believes that it is normal for power to shift between nations, governments and international organizations, as well as between NGOs. “We need to learn deal with it,” said Nye. (The Daily Mail – People’s Daily news exchange item)
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The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily