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Jakarta Post

Battle of fading hegemons

  • Arvind Subramanian


Cambridge   /   Tue, October 22, 2019   /  05:11 pm
Battle of fading hegemons This combination of file pictures created on April 4, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016 and China's leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on December 5, 2012. President Donald Trump announced on August 1, 2019 he will hit China with punitive tariffs on another $300 billion in goods, escalating his trade war after accusing Beijing of reneging on more promises. (AFP/Ed Jones, Paul J. Richards)

Almost a decade ago, China bulls like Martin Jacques and I predicted the rise of the People’s Republic at the expense of a declining United States. Today, with the two superpowers jostling for hegemony, it is time for a fresh assessment. It is tempting to view the US-China rivalry as just another superpower transition in a long line going back to the classical shift of power from Athens to Sparta. But this case is different. Traditionally, a strong rising power has challenged a weakening incumbent, making the outcome preordained. The only question was whether the transition would be peaceful or violent. This question also applies to the US-China struggle. But the outcome is far from inevitable, because the powers of both the aspirant and the incumbent are eroding — albeit in different ways. Previous predictions of US decline were based on unfavorable domestic econ...

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.