Will China and the U.S. go to war? There are more and more indicators that the world’s two superpowers may be headed into military conflict.
This comes as President Joe Biden signs an executive order that administration officials said would bolster a Trump-era ban on investment in Chinese companies deemed national security threats to the U.S.
Here are 10 top quotes about a potential military conflict between U.S. and China.
“Although a rapid collapse of American power due to covid-19 would theoretically increase the likelihood of an armed conflict, this scenario is unlikely due to the centrality of the U.S. dollar in the global financial system,” Navin Bapat wrote in the Aug. 19, 2020, edition of the scholarly journal Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy.
Bapat is the Dowd Professor of Peace and War in Political Science and the Chair of the Curriculum of Peace, War, and Defense at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.
Bapat concluded, “Covid-19 increases the short term risk of military crises, particularly in the South China Sea and Persian Gulf, but does not significantly increase the likelihood of a power transition and full-scale war.”
A Pentagon annual report on China released in 2020 stated that if the U.S. does strike China, “it will face the world’s largest array of advanced long-range, surface-to-air systems,” the Military Times reported.
“The relationship between China and the US is in freefall,” wrote Zhou Bo, a senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University, in an August 2020 Financial Times column. “That is dangerous….Washington suspects that an increasingly coercive China wants to drive the U.S. out of the Indo-Pacific. Beijing meanwhile believes that the U.S., worried about its global primacy, has fully abandoned its supposed neutrality on the South China Sea.”
With tensions across the Taiwan Strait at “an all-time high,” the risk of armed conflict has risen, according to a Beijing-backed think tank.
Taiwan and mainland China are “on the brink of war,” according to a recent report by the China Cross-Strait Academy. A conflict between the two could pull in the U.S.
“It’s not impossible, but it’s highly unlikely that we will find a pathway to peaceful coexistence,” wrote China expert Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in a Nikkei Asia interview. “Technological competition is really at the core. The U.S. is not going to cede its leadership in areas of technology, and the Chinese are going to use every means at their disposal to try and gain advantages and become dominant. And the nature of the civil-military fusion policy that (President of the People’s Republic of China) Xi Jinping is pursuing is seen as really quite dangerous by the U.S.”
“We want to stay in great-power competition,” said U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the highest-ranking U.S. military officer and 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to a The Brookings Institution report. “That’s the nature of the world, right. Go back five-ten thousand years in human history. Great powers are going to compete against each other in a lot of different spaces. So that’s OK. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. But make sure it stays a great-power competition and it doesn’t shift to great-power conflict or great-power war.”
While some experts say the U.S. is nearing conflict with China, others say it is not inevitable. “Beijing has the economic, military and technological capability to challenge the international system and America’s interests within it,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, according to an April 30 article on the U.S. Department of Defense website. “This is happening all along the continuum of conflict — from routine statecraft, through the use of sharp power or gray-zone tactics, to the potential for sustained combat operations and an expanded and capable nuclear enterprise.”
Economist Stephen Roach, one of the world’s leading authorities on Asia, is worried U.S.-China relations could soon erode further. “There are a lot of balls in the air right now that are very worrisome,” the former Morgan Stanley Asia chairman recently said on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “You’ve got a real problem here, and it’s one that worries me a lot, and I think the markets are completely ignoring.”
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“My fear for the last several years is that what started out as trade war would turn into a tech war, and then eventually morph into a cold war,” economist Stephen Roach said in an April 15 CNBC report. “Those fears have come to pass. Just this week, there are significant developments that lead me to underscore that risk.”
There is a very real risk of “a dangerous confrontation with China,” wrote Alexander Neill in a Nikkei Asia opinion piece. Neill runs a strategic advisory consultancy in Singapore, with 20 years of experience focusing on Indo-Pacific security and geopolitics.
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