The Value of Understanding East Asian History in Addressing Current Regional Tensions

David C. Kang
October 30, 2017

Sasakawa USA Forum Issue No. 8

The Value of Understanding East Asian History in Addressing Current Regional Tensions

Many in the foreign policy community view China’s rise and potential displacement of the United States as the world’s most powerful country as one of the most consequential developments of the 21st century. In assessing this development and addressing potential associated problems, looking at historical parallels may offer important lessons. However, there has been a tendency to focus more on examples from western history rather than Asian despite a wealth of analogous developments in the region where China is located. For example, the concept of a “Thucydides trap,” based on the Peloponnesian War of 431 to 404 BC between Athens and Sparta, has entered the lexicon as perhaps the most apt comparison for the problems associated with China’s rise when, for example, the Imjin War of the sixteenth century, in which Japan attempted to invade Korea and attack China, remains unknown to most foreign policy experts despite offering equally important lessons.


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About the Author

David C. Kang is Professor of International Relations and Business at the University of Southern California, with appointments in both the School of International Relations and the Marshall School of Business. He is director of both the USC Korean Studies Institute and the USC Center for International Studies. Kang’s latest book is American Grand Strategy and East Asian Security in the 21st Century (Cambridge University Press, 2017). He has authored four other books, and has published scholarly articles in journals such as International OrganizationInternational Studies Quarterly, and International Security


About the Sasakawa USA Forum

This paper serves as Issue No. 8 of the Sasakawa USA Forum, a platform for research and analysis related to Japan and U.S.-Japan relations in a bilateral, regional, and global context. In order to gain a more comprehensive view of U.S.-Japan relations, the Sasakawa USA Forum publishes research from experts outside of our organization. Click here for details on how to submit research for consideration.


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