China, America, and Thucydides’ Trap (Richard Allen Hyde, December 1, 2023, Providence)

Thus, these two powers have already traded places, come into armed conflict once, and are now in a position of relative parity. One would think that their chances of avoiding the Thucydidean Trap are pretty good. Both countries are at the top of the world’s economic heap and very risk-averse. Both have much to gain from their relationship and much to lose if it breaks down, as does the rest of the world.

A major shooting war between the two countries would be a disaster for both and for the world at large, an even greater disaster now than it would have been a few years ago because of the major shooting war in Ukraine. China (rather quietly) backs the Russian invasion. The US and most of Europe are sending military aid to Ukraine. The conflict is leading to a major upset of the world economy. China can certainly weather this storm, but it cannot be happy about the effect on the world economy and is apparently in no mood to bail out Russia with substantial aid. This brutal and clumsy invasion will certainly not make China’s intended digestion of Taiwan any easier. The chance of the Taiwanese voting to become part of China now looks more remote than ever.

Nevermind that China’s economy peaked at a GDP per capita half of Mississippi’s, it is now taking on basket case status. Treating it as a peer is really just a case of old “Yellow Menace” terrors.