31st March Highlights

A Greek historian-general, China’s economic and industrial policies and the Art of the Deal.

Thucydides (Source: The Spectator)

Academic Exposure: Thucydides Didn’t Live in East Asia

Much and more has been written about the future world order. The journal International Affairs in its January issue handles about that very subject. The developments in the US-China relationship is most important. Prospects for war between the two countries are often distilled into the so-called ‘Thucydides Trap.’ This concept describes the structural tensions brought about when a rising power (China) contests the power of the current leading power (America). A book by professor Graham Allison for example tackles this question.

More recently, the Washington Quarterly discusses in depth the nature of power transitions. In this context, the article by David Kang and Xinru Ma is most interesting. Indeed, the authors note: Thucydides did not live in East Asia, thereby contesting the European (Greek) nature of the eponymous trap. This begs a further question: are we really having a new cold war?

Expert View: A Status Report on the Belt and Road

Based on the CSIS’ Reconnecting Asia Project, this article by Nikkei Asian Review and The Banker offers an overview of several key projects under the Belt and Road. As it is a very concise report, there is no need to flesh it out further. Key findings include project delays, ballooning deficits and sovereignty concerns.

Biggest News: Made in China 2025

Last week, president Donald Trump further strengthened the American investigation into China’s trade and investment practices. These tariffs may well be the first shots in a brewing trade war between the two countries. Because of the possible global reverberations of such a conflict, one author even likens it to a “classic prisoner’s dilemma.” In this situation, other countries – such as China – may follow through with retaliatory policies. At the same time, the American government released the report of the Section 301 investigation into China’s unfair trade practices. Aimed at China’s ‘Made in China 2025’ plan – which envisions an industrial policy shift – these measures may well end up to be all the more devastating in the long run.

To Read Over Breakfast: Two Giant Engineering Projects

By looking at the Belt and Road, we often focus on the connection between East and West. However, in Europe there are projects underway that will deepen the integration between North and South. This is the core of an interesting article by The Economist.

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