What happens when a rising power lends money to the world's biggest power? As empires rise and fall, is conflict inevitable? And what does the global economic meltdown mean, anyway?

These are just a few of the questions we put to historian Niall Ferguson, author of "The Ascent of Money," as he analyzes the complex and critically important relationship between Washington and Beijing.

So light up your pipe, stroke your beard, and press play:


Editor's note: This is an abbreviated version of an interview available to members of Passport, GlobalPost's premium content service. To learn more about Passport, click here.

Read more about China and the United States:

Street view: Geithner in China

Coming out of the crisis

Does China think the US is too big to fail?

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