Is China preparing for an ‘inevitable war’ (or inevitable wars) in the South China Sea? When you hear that question, chances are that it conjures up images of xenophobic conspiracy theorists looking for additional reasons to stockpile an arsenal while they wait for a doomsday scenario half way around the world.
After all, we’ve all been conditioned – since the end of the Cold War, at least – to believe that any rumblings of war with communist countries is just so much saber rattling – usually in an attempt to gain American handouts – kind of like the occasional North Korean temper tantrum. You know, the kind that show that the North Korean illustrious leader Kim Jong Un may not be playing with a full deck, like when he recently called the South Korean president a whore and the US President a monkey…or when he hung out with Dennis Rodman for his birthday. We tend to write off problems in the South China Sea – even problems as potentially serious as the threat of an inevitable war involving China – as being no more serious.
As for China, they seem content to blame the United States for the rising tension in the South China Sea, according to a Reuters report. China claims that Viet Nam is intentionally colliding with Chinese ships in disputed waters of the South China Sea and that the US is serving an antagonist’s role. The Reuters report quotes Chinese spokeswoman Hua Chunying:
“It must be pointed out that the recent series of irresponsible and wrong comments from the United States which neglect the facts about the relevant waters have encouraged certain countries’ dangerous and provocative behavior. We urge the United States to act in accordance with maintaining the broader picture of regional peace and security, and act and speak cautiously on the relevant issue, stop making irresponsible remarks and do more to maintain regional peace and stability.”
But is China really interested in maintaining regional peace and stability? A report published last year in the tightly controlled Chinese press suggests otherwise. The inflammatory report was first published in the Chinese news journal Wenweipo, according to a February 2014 report in the International Business Times and another in the USNI News and is entitled “Six Wars China Is Sure to Fight In the Next 50 Years.”
While the reports mainly focus on the rising tensions between China and Japan, the Wenweipo article – which is available translated into English here – suggests that it is inevitable that China will go to war to recapture territory it lost to the British in the 1840s. The report, which goes on to detail six specific wars the author believes to be inevitable, starts out like this:
“China is not yet a unified great power. This is a humiliation to the Chinese people, a shame to the children of the Yellow Emperor. For the sake of national unification and dignity, China has to fight six wars in the coming fifty years. Some are regional wars; the others may be total wars. No matter what is the nature, each one of them is inevitable for Chinese unification.”
So how does this tie in with the current ruckus in the South China Sea? Or does it?
While it’s important to point out that the author’s predicted wars aren’t supposed to take place quite yet, the second war proposed in the article does suggest that China should attack Viet Nam – conveniently, one of the countries they are beefing with at the moment – in order to claim islands in the South China Sea currently controlled by the smaller nation. The report suggests that once China steamrolls Viet Nam, other Southeast Asian countries will hand contested islands over rather than risk war with a juggernaut. The report further suggests that the United States will spend too much time trying to bring about a diplomatic solution, waiting to intervene militarily until it’s too late.
“Six Wars China Is Sure to Fight In the Next 50 Years” lays out several other targets. Some of them – such as annexing land from Russia and India – come across as wishful thinking, but others – such as disputed territory held by Japan and Mongolia – may be considerably more plausible if the United States were, indeed, to delay involvement.
Make no mistake, China is a rising military power. While they may not yet be in a position to threaten the United States, they are absolutely in a position to threaten the smaller nations that surround them – and with the US already spread thin with its recent foreign wars and its people’s weariness of fighting on foreign shores, any rumblings out of China ought to be taken very seriously. Especially when the rumors of “inevitable war” are coming from China’s own media.
What do you think? Is it inevitable that China will go to war and – if so – should the United States and other western powers get involved?