China-US Cold War - the risks of seeing history as destiny

Historical analogies send powerful signals but there are many inherent risks when decision makers rely on them as policy guides

While it is common to hear the prediction of the return of the Cold War, this time between China and the US, those who take historical analogies too seriously run the risk of seriously misinterpreting both past and present, says the author. PHOTO: AFP

A few years back, then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe startled a global gathering of top politicians and businessmen in Switzerland with his claim that Japan's periodic confrontations with China are like "the same situation" Britain and Germany faced early in the 20th century that led to World War I.

More recently, several analysts have argued that the artificial islands and military bases which the Chinese military is constructing in the South China Sea are reminiscent of the heavy fortifications which France built against Germany in the run-up to World War II.

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