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International politics is always shifting, basically affected by changes in the balance of power. Of all the factors that can change a balance of power, one that is unique to modern international society (since the 19th century) is the economic growth of a single country.

Unlike the classic examples of a power-change, such as the annexation of territories or the formation of alliances, an economic change is invisible to the outside world, and it is hard to determine the point in time when a country begins presenting itself as a growing threat.

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