WASHINGTON — After two decades of the war on terror, the world is back to where it was pre-9/11: a superpower competition between the U.S. and China, according to former Economist editor Bill Emmott.

Now we enter an increasingly bipolar world where Washington and Beijing operate separately in international affairs, talking to each other only when they need to, he told Nikkei in an interview.

Emmott called both countries “Middle Kingdoms.” The likes of Japan and the U.K. will need to choose one major power as their main friend but will also want to maintain relations with the other, he predicted.

Edited excerpts from the interview follow.

Q: Please share with us your bird’s-eye view of the 20 years since 9/11.

A: If I think back to the 12 months before 9/11, two things stick in my mind. One is that during the U.S. election campaign between George W. Bush and Al Gore, Bush repeatedly criticized the Clinton-Gore administration for…

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