The Thucydides Trap.

The what? Whats a Thucydides Trap?

Aussie readers will have heard of Kevin Rudd, former Australian Prime Minister, Mandarin speaker and China watcher. Mr Rudd recently alluded to the “Thucysdes  trap” when discussing China-USA relations.

Thucydides, it turns out, was an Athenian statesman and thinker who lived around the time when Confucius was born. His “trap” was refering to rising states who are gaining power and confronting the existing ‘world order’. The dominant state resists the power of the rising state, and to do so, often turns to war. Avoiding the Thucydides trap means to renegotiate world order in peaceful ways, without resorting to war.

What do we know about China’s future plans? The 2016 5-year-plan aims to develop  ” innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development in the coming years, ”

Along with eradicating internal poverty and continuing the development of renewable energy, China is taking on board global responsibilities and supporting 120 countries to implement the United Nations 2030 plan for sustainable development. Supporting countries to strengthen their infrastucture is a key part of this agenda.

The “Belt and Road” development in Euroasia is China’s recipe for peace through development.

Only the future will tell if our world walks into the “Thucydides Trap” and descends to more global wars – the outcome of which would be terrifying – or heads towards peaceful solutions.

There’s another kind of trap, however – the Kindleburger trap – when rising and falling nation states create a vaccuum where there is no real leader. Rudd refers to this also. Kevin Rudd’s assessment of international relations can be found here:



Spaceship China has been off-air and out of cyberspace for some time. Apologies to regular readers who have been asking me when the Spaceship will relaunch! The Spaceship has been undergoing extensive repairs and is out for a test-drive. More soon!


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