The world in 2019: The vexed politics of our times has obscured the view ahead. Over the holidays we are examining some big issues on the horizon. Today we look at tensions between the leading global powers
Many of those peering with trepidation into 2019 have first turned to the past, to see what lessons history offers as a great power rises and the hegemon falters. Some look back two and a half millennia to the Peloponnesian war and the idea of the “Thucydides trap”: that war is made inevitable by the emergence of a new power (Athens) and the fear of the established leader (Sparta). Others draw on more recent transitions to suggest that powers moderate behaviour in times of decline or retrenchment. However it plays out in the long run, there is trouble ahead – and not only for the US and China.
With evidence mounting of the impact of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies, Donald Trump has boasted of “big progress” towards a potential deal. But whatever is being discussed on tariffs and intellectual property protection, few believe that the fragile ceasefire will lead to lasting harmony. Forty years after the establishment of full diplomatic relations, a broader conflict underlies the economic grievances: “On most issues of consequence, there is simply no overlap between [Xi Jinping’s] vision for China’s rise and what the United States considers an acceptable future for Asia and the world beyond,” warns Ely Ratner, a former deputy national security adviser.
Link : The Guardian view on US-China antagonism | Editorial