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US vs. China: 2 leading experts fear conflict awaits

Yan Xuetong: 'No war, but clashes possible'; Bonnie Glaser: 'Coexistence difficult'

An E-2D Hawkeye attached to the Tiger Tails of Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 launches from the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Philippine Sea. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON/BEIJING -- When a rising power challenges a ruling power -- as Athens did with Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did with Britain a century ago -- most such contests have ended badly, often for both sides.

Twelve of the 16 cases over the past 500 years have resulted in war, according to American political scientist Graham Allison. Whether the U.S. and China can avoid the so-called Thucydides trap, as Allison framed it, looks to be the preeminent geopolitical question of our time.

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