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Allison's historical analysis led him to posit a "Thucydides Trap" and the danger (if not inevitability) of war between a rising China and a dominant America, like the ancient conflict between Athens and Sparta chronicled by the Greek historian Thucydides.Similar protestations have reportedly been offered privately in recent months by a string of senior Chinese officials, and China's modest cooperation with the United States in dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat provides some hope that this is indeed a "win-win" game, as Xi and other Chinese leaders so tirelessly repeat.An interesting thought experiment would be to imagine a Chinese version of Allison, who decides to examine the ledger from their side. What would such applied history teach the Chinese about their looming intersection with the dominant power of the United States?China was a dominant economic and intellectual force when it first encountered European power, but it lacked technologically backed military muscle.History teaches that China should proclaim that its intentions are limited, benign and non-military – even as its power expands and it creates the military bases that will allow it to challenge U.S. naval power in the South China Sea.
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