Prominent US political analyst Joseph Nye has warned against exaggerating China's power, despite some observers in the United States interpreting China's growing clout as a threat to US influence in East Asia.
Nye, university distinguished service professor at Harvard University, said such views could lead to an escalating fear of enmity between the two countries.
Since the financial crisis of 2008, many scholars and journalists have written articles urging China to be more assertive as "the US is in decline", he said.
"As I demonstrate in my new book The Future of Power, this is a mistaken perception; it leads to hubris in China and fear in the US.
"That in turn makes compromise and cooperation more difficult. Both countries should relax and realize that they have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict."
In a recent Pew Research Center poll, almost 47 percent of people in the US think China is the world's leading economic power, while only 31 percent named the US. About 60 percent of US citizens believe their country is in decline.
Nye argued that not only is the US likely to remain the most powerful country in the first half of this century, but "China still has a long way to go to catch up in military, economic and soft power".
Earlier this year, Nye explained why China "is a long way from posing the kind of challenge to America that the Kaiser's Germany posed to Britain in 1900".
In 1900, he said, Germany had not only surpassed Britain as an industrial power, but Germany was "pursuing an adventurous, globally oriented foreign and military policy that was bound to bring about a clash". In contrast, China is focusing primarily on its economic development.
Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest US bank by assets, recently predicted that China would be the world's largest economy by 2027.
"And even if China's GDP passes US GDP around 2027, the two economies would be equivalent in size, not equal in composition," Nye said.
"Moreover, as countries develop, there is a natural tendency for growth rates to slow. By my calculations, if China's annual growth goes down to 6 percent and the US economy grows at 2 percent per year after 2030, China will not equal the US in per capita income until decades later."