China appears to expect “war” with the U.S.
President Donald Trump and his team have taken a tough stance on a number of sensitive Chinese issues like trade, the one-China principle and Taiwan, and the heated South China Sea.
Potential flash points span the Asia Pacific, and the word “war” is being thrown around more frequently.
The chances of war have become “more real,” a commentary in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily written by the national defense mobilization department in the Central Military Commission argued Friday.
“‘A war within the president’s term’ or ‘war breaking out tonight’ are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality,” the editorial read.
Trump has threatened to upend the one-China principle, which has been part of the foundation of the U.S.-China bilateral relationship for decades, and China has responded with hostility.
If Trump opens the “Pandora’s box of lethal potential” that is the delicate Taiwan issue, “a period of fierce, damaging interactions will be unavoidable, as Beijing will have no choice but to take off the gloves,” the state-run China Daily said in response.
Trump has also called out China for building “massive fortresses” in the South China Sea, and his team has taken things even further.
Comparing China’s assertive behavior at sea “to Russia’s taking of Crimea,” Rex Tillerson, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, said that the U.S. needs “to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”
“They are taking territory or control or declaring control of territories that are not rightfully China’s,” he added.
Trump’s White House press secretary doubled down on those assertions Monday. “If those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yes, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” Sean Spicer explained.
“If Trump’s diplomatic team shapes future Sino-U.S. ties as it is doing now, the two sides had better prepare for a military clash,” warned the Global Times, suggesting that Washington, D.C., ought to prepare for a “large-scale war in the South China Sea.”
“If the new U.S. administration follows this route and adopts this attitude, then it will lead to a war between China and the U.S., and that would mean the end of U.S. history or even all of humanity,” Jin Canrong, a Chinese international relations expert, told the Global Times.
“If they invade the South China Sea, we have the ability to destroy them,” he added.
Chinese reports indicated recently that China has deployed DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missiles, advanced weapons capable of carrying up to 12 nuclear warheads, in response to Trump’s “provocative remarks.”
Trump promised to take China to task for engaging in unfair trading practices.
Many observers anticipate a trade war if Trump labels China a currency manipulator and heavily taxes Chinese exports, as he said he would do on the campaign trail.
“The arrogant Trump team has underestimated China’s ability to retaliate,” the Global Times said recently. “China may suffer more losses than the U.S. once a trade war starts. But China will take the U.S. on to the end.
“China is now preparing some weapons,” Cheng Dawei, a former trade advisor to Beijing, previously told the Wall Street Journal.
Across the board, China appears to be expecting some sort of clash or conflict with the new U.S. administration. At the same time, China has stated that it would like to manage disputes, but it would require concessions on Trump’s side.
China is “willing, on the basis of strictly abiding by the ‘one China’ principle and respect of each other’s core interests, to have dialogue with the new U.S. government,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi explained.
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