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China has risen peacefully but will the US go down without a fight?

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What is the greatest challenge we face in the 21st century? It is not China’s rise but America’s decline.

The decline, albeit relative, is obvious. The United States’ share of global GDP has dropped from an estimated 50 per cent at the end of the second war to 22.4 per cent in 1985 and to 15.2 per cent today. The International Monetary Fund expects it to slide to 13.9 per cent by 2023.

America’s decline started before Donald Trump became president, dating from the apogee of triumphalism at the end of the cold war, and will probably continue after him. But he is accelerating it with his “America first” agenda. Pulling out of treaties, denigrating allies, starting trade wars: under the Trump administration, the US looks more like a “revisionist power” than any other nation.

But is Trump an accident or the inevitable? When asked what he thought of the French Revolution of 1789, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai famously said it was too soon to say. History will judge Trump, but probably not in two or six years. Accountability and credibility don’t seem to matter to the unpredictable US president, who prefers to play with fire.

Even those most critical of China have to admit its rise in the past 40 years has been peaceful, but could America’s decline, if inevitable, be equally peaceful?

The US should stop worrying about ‘imperial’ China

First, use common sense rather than believe in myths. One doesn’t need to read Paul Kennedy’s classic, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, to know great powers are rising and falling all the time.........

© South China Morning Post