It would be a tragedy if these two superpowers began regarding each other as adversaries. But that's the drift. Heirs to a 2,000-year cultural tradition -- and citizens of the world's largest country -- the Chinese have an innate sense of superiority, Jacques writes. Americans, too, have a sense of superiority, thinking that our values -- the belief in freedom, individualism and democracy -- reflect universal aspirations.
Greater conflicts and a collision of national egos seem inevitable. No longer should we sit passively while China's trade and currency policies jeopardize jobs here and elsewhere. Political differences between the countries are increasingly hard to ignore. But given China's growing power -- and the world economy's fragile state -- a showdown may do no one any good. Miscalculation is leading us down dark alleys.