What the future holds for China

Four questions to American academics Graham Allison and Niall Ferguson on how the world will adapt to a rising superpower

The World Today Updated 6 November 2020 Published 26 July 2019 3 minute READ

Graham Allison

Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard University

Niall Ferguson

Senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior fellow of the Centre for European Studies, Harvard

Is war between China and the United States inevitable?

No. War between the US and China is not inevitable. As I explain in my book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, war – a real bloody war that could indeed become the Third World War – is possible, perhaps even likely. In 12 of the 16 cases in the past 500 years when a rising power, like China today, threatened to displace a ruling power, like the US today, the outcome was war. But in four cases, including the rise of the US to rival and then eclipse Great Britain and the Cold War between a rising Soviet Union and the US, the result was not war.

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