We owe China a lot of money—they own a lot of our national debt. And US businesses are building a lot of new factories over there—for economic reasons. So, we’re sort of becoming allies, right? Uh, no.
It seems that we need to prepare for a potential war with China, according to a group of defense analysts at a House armed services subcommittee hearing last week. Both the US and China have a stockpile of nuclear weapons.
The defense analysts told the House Armed Services’ Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee that the Pentagon should begin a massive arms build-up, including additional nuclear submarines, for a possible war with China. “Chinese leaders are ambitious and they are moving toward great power status,” said Seth Cropsey, a senior fellow at the DC-based Hudson Institute. “The US is not taking this possibility as seriously as it should.”
To respond to this threat, he added, the US needs to develop a detailed war plan involving US military assets.
China’s military spending has increased nearly threefold in the past ten years, from a conservative $45 billion in 2003 to at least $115 billion currently—and I’m guessing that a lot of this money comes from the interest we’re paying them on the loans they’ve given us.
Further, a decade ago China was reliant upon Russian assistance in armaments, but is now increasingly shifted toward indigenous design and production. It is rapidly building up a modernized submarine force, and its advanced guided missile destroyers represent a major improvement in fleet air defenses.
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), the chairman of the subcommittee, said that this modernization is emboldening the Chinese government to exert their interests by bullying their neighbors and pushing back the US in the Asia Pacific region. There is undeniably a rapid increase of war tensions in Asia.
On Dec. 9, a former Chinese Ambassador to the UN, Sha Zukang, said that a current territorial dispute between China and Japan, of which the US and South Korea are also involved could lead to WWIII. “If China started a war with Japan, it would be much larger than both the Sino-Japanese War and WWII, said Sha. The US and Japan should cooperate with China to maintain regional peace”. Zukang’s rhetoric sounds somewhat alarmist but it is not that different in tone from other sober analysts who warned that the escalating crisis represents a “watershed moment for the world” and means “Asia is on the cusp of a full-blown arms race.”
Earlier, on 23 Nov, the Chinese government announced it would enforce new air traffic restrictions inside a self-declared Air Defense Identification Zone—ADIZ—which includes most of the East China Sea. This controversial Chinese ADIZ not only overlaps the ADIZs of Japan and South Korea but also includes the Senkaku Islands, the aforementioned territory in dispute between China and Japan.
While our military did not change its flight ops to comply with this ADIZ, the White House did ask US civilian airliners to notify China when they fly through the zone. In response, Chinese warships tried to stop the USS Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser, as it sailed through international waters inside the ADIZ on 5 Dec. A Navy spokesman said that the Cowpens had to maneuver in order to avoid a collision.
Given these unprecedented confrontations, it is definitely possible that the military tensions in Asia could erupt into an all-out war between the US and China, perhaps even a nuclear WWIII.
Now, let me make something clear. Under no circumstances will the US attack China—and it’s equally unlikely that China will attack the US. Economically, we need each other. But if China attacks Japan or South Korea, both our allies—what do we do then? Sit on our hands and wait for the UN to order China to stop—and then whine as China ignores the UN and gobbles up Japan or South Korea? We will have to step in—or watch a new version of a horrible dictator start taking over a part of the world. The point is, we’d better start preparing now—and we’re not.