Can America and China Escape Thucydide's Trap?

Basic Information:

DATE: June 25, 2017

TIME: 14:00-15:30

LOCATION: Auditorium Hall, School of Public Policy and Management (SPPM) 

Language: English (Simultaneous interpretation will be provided).

Moderator: Prof. XUE Lan, Dean of SPPM

Host: SPPM

Co-organizer: Institute of International Development and Global Governance, SPPM, Tsinghua University


A rising China is on course today to collide with an America that is immovable in certain areas of international policy. The likely result of this  event can be predicted by revisiting the work of the great historian Thucydides, who wrote: “It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this instilled in Sparta that made war inevitable.” The goal of 'Destined for War' is not to predict the future,  but to prevent it from becoming a reality. Escaping Thucydides’s Trap is not just a theoretical possibility. In four of the 16 cases, including three from the 20th century, imaginative statecraft averted war. 

Can Washington and Beijing steer their ships of state through today’s treacherous shoals? The answer to this question lies not in the present but in the lessons learned from history.

Eminent Harvard scholar, Graham Allison, explains why Thucydides’s Trap is the best lens for understanding the most critical foreign policy issue of our time.

About the speaker:

Graham Allison, author of "Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?" (2017) is Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard Kennedy School. As “Founding Dean” of the modern Kennedy School, under his leadership, from 1977 to 1989, a small, undefined program grew twenty-fold to become a major professional school of public policy and government. 

He has also served as Special Advisor to the Secretary of Defense under President Reagan. He has the sole distinction of having twice been awarded the Department of Defense’s highest civilian award, the Distinguished Public Service Medal, first by Secretary Cap Weinberger and second by Secretary Bill Perry. 

Dr. Allison’s first book, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (1971), was released in an updated and revised second edition (1999) and ranks among the all-time bestsellers with more than 450,000 copies in print.

Transferred from: XiaoyanOnline