Beijing sunrise Jie Zhao/Getty Images

The Kindleberger Trap

Charles Kindleberger, one of the intellectual architects of the Marshall Plan, argued that the disastrous decade of the 1930s was a result of the United States' failure to provide global public goods after it had replaced Britain as the leading power. Today, as China’s power grows, will it make the same mistake?

CAMBRIDGE – As US President-elect Donald Trump prepares his administration’s policy toward China, he should be wary of two major traps that history has set for him. The “Thucydides Trap,” cited by Chinese President Xi Jinping, refers to the warning by the ancient Greek historian that cataclysmic war can erupt if an established power (like the United States) becomes too fearful of a rising power (like China). But Trump also has to worry about the “Kindleberger Trap”: a China that seems too weak rather than too strong.