The Thucydides Trap: The Globalization of Competition Between China and Japan

Mar 21 12:00–1:30pm
Common Room, 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge

Victor Teo (Assistant Professor, Department of Japanese Studies, the University of Hong Kong; HYI Visiting Scholar)
Chair/Discussant: Ezra Vogel (Henry Ford II Professor of Social Sciences, Emeritus, Harvard University)

Co-sponsored with the Asia Center

One might think that it is only natural that Sino-Japanese relations are tense because they fought a bitter war from 1937-1945. Assuming that is true, it does not fully explain why Japan and the United States are such close allies, given bitter struggle between the United States and Japan during the Second World War.  After all, it was the United States that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed 300,000 directly in the two cities. Why do some former enemies become the best of friends whilst others remain contentious after decades? This talk will focus on the tempestuous relationship between China and Japan over the last two decades. Drawing from the speaker’s forthcoming monograph, the talk will examine the patterns and trends in the evolution of contemporary Sino-Japanese relations. Through a comparative framework of each nation’s political agenda, the talk will touch on the prospects of co-operation and conflict between these two Asian giants in their bilateral interactions. The talk will also assess the possible competition that is emerging between the two countries in Southeast Asia and in the Middle East as Tokyo and Beijing seeks to expand their influence abroad, and how this rivalry might be in turn tempered by the changes we are seeing in international politics with the advent of the Trump Administration.