Chinese President Xi Jinping has asked the military to prepare for war, sparking fears that the current U.S.-China trade conflict might end up bloody. He was addressing the Southern Theatre Command, which is tasked with monitoring the South China Sea.
A war-ready China
“It’s necessary to strengthen the mission… and concentrate preparations for fighting a war… We need to take all complex situations into consideration and make emergency plans accordingly. We have to step up combat readiness exercises, joint exercises, and confrontational exercises to enhance servicemen’s capabilities and preparation for war,” said Xi (South China Morning Post).
The instruction comes on the back of America’s US$330 million weapons deal with Taiwan. China sees the island nation as its “rightful part.” However, Taiwan has always maintained that they are an independent country run by a democratically-elected government and have no interest in being ruled by Beijing’s communist regime. The U.S. supports Taiwan’s claim of independence, a position that has irked China for years.
With the U.S.-China trade war already stressing out the Chinese economy, Beijing is reportedly nervous about American’s increasing involvement in Taiwan. In fact, U.S. support of Taiwan gives the Communist Party the required fodder to brainwash citizens on how the “West is against us.” And since people wrongly believe America to be the aggressor in the current trade war, convincing them that a military war is China’s moral right should be no problem for Beijing.
In October, a Chinese destroyer almost collided with a U.S. warship in the South China Sea as it frantically tried to warn the American vessel to retreat from the waters. The U.S. captain aboard the warship had dubbed the maneuver as “unsafe and unprofessional.”
“The United States is expected to conduct more freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea region, and because it does not recognize Beijing’s rights to artificial islands, like Mischief Reef. There will probably be more military friction between the two countries there,” Zhou Chenming, a Beijing-based analyst, said to Express.
While the U.S. Navy is still more advanced than the Chinese, the fact of the matter is that Beijing has rapidly modernized its Navy over the past decade. Many experts are now not sure what the outcome of a naval confrontation between the two countries would be. Even the leader of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip Davidson, has warned that China can fight in the waters of the South China Sea much better than previously expected.
Possibility of war
While a full-blown war between the U.S. and China would have been perceived as an impossibility a couple of decades ago, political analysts now view the situation as a real possibility. The only question that needs to be answered is when the war will actually happen. “I think in 15 years — it’s not inevitable — but it is a very strong likelihood that we will be at war with China,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the just-retired commander of the U.S. Army in Europe (The Daily Beast).
Given that trade conflicts have usually descended into military confrontations throughout history, China could easily be triggered into launching the first strike against the U.S., perhaps sooner rather than later.