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USM professor’s op-Ed discusses China, U.S. economies

Bangor Daily News illustration

Joseph W. McDonnell, a professor of public policy and management at USM’s Muskie School of Public Service and director of the USM Confucius Institute, has penned an op-Ed published Thursday in the Bangor Daily News arguing that China’s rise in economic status — a concern among some U.S. officials — should not be cause for conflict.

McDonnell likens China’s rise in prominence to that of ancient Athens’, which sparked war between concerned rival Sparta.

“This dynamic of a rising power threatening the hegemony of a ruling power could lead the U.S. and China into what scholars refer to as the ‘Thucydides’ trap,’” McDonnell writes.

China’s population is four times greater than that of the U.S., and its economy is growing three times as fast, “leaving little doubt that China will enjoy increasingly greater economic power as the 21st century unfolds,” McDonnell says.

The professor argues that, despite the apparent warm personal relationship between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the two countries must take constructive steps to avert hostilities as economic differences between them become clear.

“China’s rise does not have to lead inexorably into the Thucydides’ trap,” McDonnell says. “By learning from Athens and Sparta, the U.S. and China can avoid the Thucydides’ trap only by choosing a more constructive path to the future.”