Beijing sunrise Jie Zhao/Getty Images

Le piège de Kindleberger

CAMBRIDGE – Alors que le président américain élu Donald Trump prépare la politique de son administration envers la Chine, il devrait se méfier de deux pièges majeurs que l'histoire a dressé devant lui. Le « piège de Thucydide », cité par le président chinois Xi Jinping, se réfère à l'avertissement de l'historien grec antique pour qui une guerre cataclysmique peut éclater lorsqu’un pouvoir établi (comme les États-Unis) ressent une peur démesurée face à une nouvelle puissance (comme la Chine). Mais Trump devra aussi à se soucier du « piège de Kindleberger »: une Chine qui apparaitrait comme plus faible, et non plus forte, qu’elle ne l’est.

Charles Kindleberger, un architecte intellectuel du Plan Marshall qui a ensuite enseigné au MIT, a fait valoir que la décennie désastreuse des années 1930 a été causée par le fait que les USA ont remplacé la Grande-Bretagne en tant que plus grande puissance mondiale, mais n'ont pas réussi à prendre le rôle de la Grande-Bretagne dans la fourniture de biens publics mondiaux. Le résultat a été l'effondrement du système mondial dans la dépression économique, le génocide et la guerre mondiale. Aujourd'hui, alors que la puissance de la Chine se développe, quelle sera sa contribution aux biens publics mondiaux?

En politique intérieure, les gouvernements produisent des biens publics tels que les services de police ou d'un environnement propre, qui bénéficient à l’ensemble des citoyens et dont personne ne peut être exclus. Au niveau mondial, les biens publics – comme un climat stable, la stabilité financière ou la liberté des mers – sont prévus par des coalitions dirigées par les plus grandes puissances.

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