To the Editor:

Judith Shapiro’s review (June 18) of two recent books by Howard W. French (“Everything Under the Heavens”) and Graham Allison (“Destined for War”) uncritically reinforces two prevailing myths about modern China. Many Sinologists have labored for years to disabuse lay readers of the notion that contemporary China is a modern-day imperial dynasty bent on dominating Asia and beyond. But Shapiro (channeling French) buys into this delusion without any qualms.

Similarly, many international relations specialists have incisively challenged Allison’s flawed application of the so-called Thucydides’s Trap to Sino-United States relations, yet Shapiro sees the argument as confirmation of French. The overall result is yet another simplistic affirmation of the “China threat” thesis.

MICHAEL D. SWAINE
WASHINGTON

This letter to the editor was originally published in the New York Times.