The Committee of 100 (C100) partnered with the Commonwealth Club of Northern California on June 7, 2017, to present “China’s Rise and the U.S.: A Discussion with Harvard’s Graham Allison”, with welcoming remarks from C100 member Dennis Wu.
Dr. Graham Allison (Former Assistant Secretary of Defense; Director, Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; and Author, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?) was joined in conversation with the Honorable Ellen Tauscher (Former Representative, California’s 10th Congressional District, Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security) to discuss whether China and the U.S. are headed towards war from the lens (and Allison’s hypothesis) of Thucydides’s trap, the idea that when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling power, war is inevitable.
Allison began by stating that the past 500 years have seen 16 cases where a rising power threatened to displace a ruling one, and 12 of these cases resulted in war. This fact led to very interesting discussion topics, some of which included: the balance of military and economic power in relation to U.S.-China dependence, how China might behave as the new world superpower, what a unified Korea would mean for China, and a lesson on benevolence. The discussion ended with the thought that “war is a failure of diplomacy” and both countries need to figure out what it will take to keep stable ties.