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Why Convergence Breeds Conflict

Growing More Similar Will Push China and the United States Apart

Author: Mark Leonard
September/October 2013
Foreign Affairs

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Many fear that in the not-too-distant future, the world will be torn apart as the gulf that separates China and the United States grows ever wider. How, they ask, can a communist dictatorship and a capitalist democracy bridge the gap between them? But it is time to stop thinking that the two countries come from different planets and that the tensions between them are the product of their differences. In fact, until relatively recently, China and the United States got along quite well -- precisely because their interests and attributes differed. Today, it is their increasing similarities, not their differences, that are driving the two countries apart.

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