Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

The likelihood of China starting a war, particularly with the United States, is a major concern in international affairs. If China were to use military force against Taiwan or another target in the Western Pacific, it could result in a scenario where two nuclear-armed giants clash for regional and global hegemony. Furthermore, with ongoing wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, this could lead to a global conflagration unlike anything seen since World War II. Despite recent high-level diplomacy between Washington and Beijing, worrisome signs are present. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has been building up its military capabilities with ships, planes, and missiles. The country has also been taking measures to stockpile fuel and food and reduce the vulnerability of its economy to sanctions. Xi has emphasized the need to prepare for “worst-case and extreme scenarios,” as well as to be ready to withstand “high winds, choppy waters, and even dangerous storms.” China’s increasingly coercive behavior towards its neighbors, along with its visible demonstrations of power such as battering and blockading Taiwan, have raised concerns among U.S. officials about the rising risk of war. It is believed that Xi is seeking the capability to take over Taiwan by 2027. As China’s economy faces challenges, some observers are looking for signs that a struggling China might become aggressive to divert attention from internal problems or to secure gains while it still can. While some analysts believe that the danger of Chinese aggression can be managed as long as Washington doesn’t provoke Beijing, others highlight that China hasn’t initiated a war since its invasion of Vietnam in 1979, diminishing the likelihood of it starting one now. However, there are also strong arguments indicating that China’s behavior is subject to change, particularly due to the evolving circumstances the country finds itself in. Shifts in territorial disputes, as well as military and economic prospects, could lead to higher risk factors, highlighting China’s potential for aggressive actions. The possibility of a U.S.-China war appears remote on the surface, but China’s recent military activities and the ongoing territorial expansion in the Himalayas raise concerns about the growing risk of conflict. Territory and military balance are two primary factors that could lead to wars. The rarity of major wars involving China in the past several decades has led some to believe that the country is following a peaceful path to global power. However, history has shown that circumstances can dramatically alter a country’s behavior. Therefore, while predicting the timing of a conflict is challenging, the risk factors regarding China’s aggressive actions are increasingly prominent.

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