War risk between China and US grows as Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy plans to visit Taiwan

The Doomsday Clock shows 90 seconds to midnight. It’s the closest thing it’s ever been to Armageddon. For a good reason.

Global tension is rising out of control

Russia invaded Ukraine. But that brutal fight is a harbinger of what could happen in Southeast Asia.

This week, Newly elected chairman Xi Jinping parliament set the tone for the next five years. It’s pushy. It’s defiant. It’s aggressive. He wants Taiwan – preferably peacefully, if necessary – by force.

At the same time, the Republican-controlled Washington Congress is determined to show its support for democracy on a distant island. Regardless of diplomatic costs.

This is a confrontation in which the world fears a war between two nuclear powers.

But how real is this risk?

One camp blames Beijing.

This indicates a relentless escalation Taiwan’s military intimidation, Himalayas, East and South China seas. He highlights the repression in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. This highlights the economic coercion applied to those who defy his will, such as Australia, South Korea, and Lithuania.

Another blames Washington.

He insists that Beijing is simply rebuilding what it has lost. He denies that the Communist Party, dominated by Huang, is waging cultural genocide. He accuses the West of imposing its own rules on the world. It argues that the rise of Beijing is a “force of history” that cannot be contained.

The battle lines are drawn.

It all comes down to how determined Beijing and Washington are to stand their ground.

Chairman Xi has 10 years of action to match his words. And he successfully changed the constitution of the Communist Party, giving him a third term in power – and possibly a lifetime.

The next US presidential election will take place in 2024. And the extreme polarization of US policy has already demonstrated that long-standing international alliances, standards, and agreements are on an unsustainable footing.

But analysts at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (home of the Doomsday Clock) believe war will break out “if the People’s Republic of China (PRC) does what its communist leaders have long threatened: use force to force Taiwan to ‘reunite’ with Taiwan.” homeland”.

immediate threat

“The risk of war between China and the US is growing,” he says. Cato Institute Senior Fellow Doug Bandow.

“Bilateral relations have escalated since then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s highly publicized trip to Taiwan last August. The prospect of current speaker Kevin McCarthy doing the same has led Chinese diplomats to warn US officials that Beijing will react aggressively.”


It comes down to pride.

Autocrats must appear infallible.

And the desire among democracies to stand up to hooligans.

“For China, reunification with Taiwan it is, first of all, a question of territorial integrity and national pride; as such, it is critical to the legitimacy of the Communist Party regime,” said Michael Swain, senior fellow at the Quincy Institute.

“For the United States, Taiwan is tied to Washington’s credibility as a staunch supporter of a democratic friend and ally of other countries such as Japan and South Korea.”

Both sides have different audiences for the game.

And the next act seems to be the desire of the current Speaker of the House to lead another delegation to Taipei, despite the dismay caused by the visit of his predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, last year.

Republican Kevin McCarthy says such visits have always been part of US-Taiwan relations and that Beijing is trying to change the status quo.

But his colleagues are open about the elephant in the room: Taiwan independence.

Nebraska spokesman Don Bacon urged the US to get rid of the ambiguity about the “one China” policy.

“China will be furious; they throw a tantrum. That’s how it was when Pelosi came,” he said. “It’s all right. They can throw a tantrum.”

But the Chinese Communist Party has staked on Taiwan.

It got to the point where laws were passed to mandate military action if Taipei wanted to openly declare its independence.

“The legitimacy of the PRC government in the eyes of its citizens simply would not be preserved if Beijing could not respond to such a simple challenge to its nationalist beliefs,” Swain argues.

Heart of the matter

Taiwan is an unconquered outpost of the old autocratic Nationalist Party of China. But after the end of the civil war in 1949, everything changed.

He remained independent. But rapid economic modernization led the newly elected population to demand more representation, eventually leading to democratic elections in 1991.

It became a pin-up nation for the West’s representation of the post-World War II world order.

But only after the recognition of its sovereignty was a diplomatic exchange to keep communist China from getting too close to the former Soviet Union.

Now the long-standing crisis can no longer be swept under the rug.

“After decades of following Deng Xiao-ping’s famous dictum, ‘Hide your strength, bide your time’, the PRC under President Xi Jinping committed suicide.”hiding and waiting”,” Hoover Institution Fellow Larry Diamond and retired Admiral James Ellis said in the report. Bulletin.

“Having received his coveted third term as China’s supreme leader at the 20th CCP Congress last October, Xi is now determined to achieve his grand strategic goals to bring about “national rejuvenation” and end the “century of humiliation” that has lasted since 1839. to 1949″.

They add that allowing Taiwan to remain independent is incompatible with this rhetoric.

“Beijing would undoubtedly prefer to wait with the use of force, at least until its current campaign of military modernization is over. The new (fast track) deadline for this is 2027, which is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army of China, or PLA.”

Military defeat is also not an option for Beijing, Swain argues.

“Given the incredibly high political stakes, even a failed attempt to forcibly prevent the loss of Taiwan would be seen in Beijing as a favor for inaction,” he writes. “The latter will almost certainly lead to a serious internal crisis, jeopardizing not only the personal positions of China’s leaders, but also the stability of the entire PRC regime.”

Is containment possible?

The Chinese Communist Party was outraged by the democratization of Taiwan. During the 1996 presidential election, it threatened to invade and launched a series of rocket launches into the waters off its coast.

In response, US President Bill Clinton ordered two carrier battle groups to move away from the island. One even passed through the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing was forced to retreat.

“But then Beijing decided to build up military power in order to succeed in imposing its will at some later date and avoid repeated humiliation by the US Navy,” Bulletin analysts wrote.

The result of this confrontation is a colossal build-up and modernization of the navy, aviation and missile forces of China.

“Assumptions that the United States will win any conflict are reckless at best,” says Bandow. “Geography is strongly against the US. American forces will operate thousands of miles from home, while the Chinese will be able to use the numerous military bases on the mainland.”

And allied support from countries including Japan, South Korea and Australia, he says, is uncertain.

Bulletin analysts Diamond and Ellis agree that military deterrence requires a united front.

“Taiwan and the United States, as well as our key allies Japan and ideally Australia, must demonstrate a clear determination to fight and a willingness to win. This will require a rapid improvement in the composition of forces and positions.

No surrender, no retreat?

“There is no consensus on whether China will use force to ‘reunite’ Taiwan with the mainland, and if so, when. But most experts agree that the risk is increasing dramatically, and the time horizon has now been reduced from decades to years,” Bulletin analysts say.

“We can’t waste time. We must embark on a comprehensive containment strategy through force and preparedness because some steps will take years to complete.”

This is apparently why AUKUS and Australia are spending $368 billion on nuclear submarines. Japan and South Korea are also dramatically increasing their defense budgets.

However, military means are only part of the deterrence equation.

“Beijing must realize that a military attack on Taiwan would destroy the Chinese economy and thus seriously jeopardize the power of Xi Jinping,” write Diamond and Ellis.

“Now we are in a race against time to reduce our dependence on the Chinese economy … so that we have room to maneuver to impose devastating sanctions against the Chinese state that has committed undisguised aggression against Taiwan, even if these sanctions also impose great pain on our own economy.”

But the firefight is also dangerous for Washington and its allies.

“A war with China will not be a cakewalk or even a devastating setback suffered by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan,” says Bandlow. “A conflict with the PRC will certainly be disastrous and could lead to the death of the country if attempts to limit the escalation fail.”

Originally published as ‘Risk of war between China and US grows’ as tensions rise