Bad as they are, U.S.-China relations are not at their lowest point ever. That honor goes to the 1960s, when the relationship was suffused with sheer and unmistakable hostility. Today’s ill will and nastiness are the worst since then. Bad as things are, however, expect deeper depths and worse vitriol. You ain’t seen nothing yet.
Tensions are inherent in a relationship between the world’s two largest economies, both of which believe in their own exceptionalism and the subsequent “right” to regional, if not global, leadership that it confers. That is the message of the “Thucydides Trap.” The U.S. security strategy that characterized this era as one of “great power competition” ratified that conclusion, it didn’t shape it.