Comments on China by historian Niall Ferguson

Comments on China by historian Niall Ferguson. By Nicholas Jensen.

On war:

“If you ask yourself what are the big disasters that lie ahead, a major war between the US and China is actually a much more proximate problem than global warming …”

“As a historian I’ve observed that wars often happen by mistake rather than by design, because each side underestimates the other state’s readiness to go to war and I worry we are getting into that place. But nothing is inevitable in history.”

“The worry is that you blunder into a war over Taiwan because the Chinese think they can get away with an aggressive move and then discover — rather like the Germans did in 1917 and the Japanese did in 1941 — that the US will fight.”

On Australia:

Ferguson has been critical of Australia’s complacency on China. In 2018, he said: “What I see in Australia is a debate (about China) that if it was going on in a regional council in Scotland would seem parochial.”

But more than two years on, Ferguson’s views have tempered. “I think I was being a little unfair … Actually, I’ve been struck by how influential Australian analysts have been in the last couple of years on American opinion, and although sometimes the domestic discussion can seem parochial, in truth Australian thinking on China has been extremely sophisticated.”

“This is no longer a debate about tariffs and trade, this is about geopolitics and keeping our Allies from coming under Chinese influence … The pressure on Australia has become a lot more explicit over the last year and I think everyone now realises the stakes are now much higher.”

hat-tip Stephen Neil