Political Science Paper on Is war between China and USA inevitable?

Is war between China and USA inevitable?

PRO: The war between China and USA is inevitable

  1. During his presidential campaigns, President Trump threatened to wage trade war on China. He accused China of raping the US economy and stealing American jobs.[i]
  2. The US government has been transferring its naval forces to the Pacific and Asia. The Chinese government on its part has been investing in military equipment and building military bases in South Asia.
  3. The two countries have increased their military spending to unimaginable figures. The US figure currently exceeds £500 billion whereas that of China exceeds £120 billion.[ii]
  4. The US government is weakening its already established mechanisms of resolving the war. For example, the Trump administration is determined to withdraw from NATO.
  5. More developing countries in Africa that were formerly business partners with the USA are doing business with China now, and the USA is determined to get these trade partners back.

CON: The war between China and USA is evitable

  1. The war is evitable so long as the US government turns to the western system of order.
  2. The nuclear deterrence measures may hamper the progress of the war.
  3. The war on terror may divert the US attention from Chinese war.
  4. Slow economic growth and high unemployment rates in the two countries may hamper the war because the focus would be shifted towards these challenges. In addition, the military budgets for the two countries would be checked and brought to manageable levels.
  5. The Chinese government is not interested in the war and it may only engage in the war if the USA would trigger it.

During his presidential campaigns, the US president said that he would wage war on China. He accused China of raping the U.S economy as well as stealing American jobs. If such accusations will continue, then there is no doubt that the war between the two countries will be inevitable. Furthermore, by looking at the way President Trump has been organizing his administration, it is highly likely that he will continue making similar accusations. The president is on record claiming that he wants to make America great again. He has from time to time insisted that America must take its rightful position. Whether the position will be military or economic, the two positions will ultimately trigger a war between the two countries. In fact, as the USA tries to become great again, China will ultimately fight to defend its newly acquired markets in Africa and elsewhere as well as fight to maintain its dominance in Asia.[iii]

As the above takes place, the US president does not seem ready to stop making accusations against China. Recently, he accused China of devaluing its currency to gain an unfair trade advantage over the USA as well as build a massive military force in the South China Sea. He further went ahead to speak directly to the Taiwanese president who appears to be a rebel against the Chinese government. In fact, given that Taiwan has for many years been used to trigger a war between USA and China, then the war between the two countries is inevitable. However, the question remains whether the US government will trigger the war or not. If US government does not trigger the war, China is unlikely to trigger the war because it is on the verge of expanding its territory and influence in Asia rather than fighting the USA.[iv]

Notwithstanding, the US government has been transferring its naval forces to the Pacific and Asia. In fact, President Obama, during his reign, announced that the US government would transfer two-third of its naval military to the Pacific and Asia. Currently, the US encircles China with roughly four hundred military bases in the South China Sea. The military bases are armed with missiles, warships, bombs and nuclear weapons.[v]

China on its part has been transferring its military forces to the South China Sea in preparation for the war that might erupt. Recently, it built a strategic airstrip on the disputed Spratly Island. China is also equipped with nuclear weapons. Besides building a strategic airstrip and equipping its military with nuclear weapons, China is also on the verge of building superior military weapons. Moreover, in 2015, its military force completed a test flight of a high-altitude airship. The airship is the world’s largest solar-powered airship capable of carrying between five and seven tons of payloads. In the event of communication blockage or satellite destruction, China is prepared to continue the fight.[vi] Consequently, no matter what happens the war is likely to start anytime, and it may be triggered by either country.

In terms of military spending, the two countries have increased their military spending over the years to secure their territories and dominance. The USA increased its military spending during the Obama administration more than any other administration has done since the cold war ended. China, on the other hand, has increased its military spending to £120 billion.[vii] However, although the Chinese military spending is far much below the US spending, the fact remains that the two countries have spent considerable amounts of money on their military forces as a way of getting ready for the war.

In spite of the effort made towards preparing for the war, if the US government would acknowledge the fact that it would not be possible for it to stop China from rising and that China would not be able to overturn existing world order, then the war on China would be evitable. As far as the rise of China is concerned, new entrants into world politics have their own ways of gaining authority and status in world politics. China is no exception. As a result, no matter what the US government does, China will ultimately have its way to world politics.[viii] However, the fact that world’s great powers including China and USA have nuclear weapons, then China may not be able to overturn existing world orders. Therefore, the most important thing for the US government to do would be to accommodate the rise of China because, during this nuclear deterrence age, the war mechanism would not be a solution to the pending war between the two countries.

Besides the nuclear deterrence practice, the war on terror, which is a major threat to the USA, may also divert the US attention away from Chinese war. Historical records show that such practices have in the past diverted US attention away from Chinese war. The September 11 attack, in particular, was able to do this to the Bush administration that was also keen on waging war on China.[ix] If this is something to go by, the ISIS together with other terror threats may divert US attention away from Chinese war.

Other challenges such as slow economic growth as well as increasing rate of unemployment may also divert the US attention away from Chinese war. Similar challenges in China may as well divert the Chinese attention away from the US war. However, the diversion of Chinese attention away from the US war is dependent on the steps that the US government will take towards China in the future. More importantly, although China is in the middle of the war, China may not be interested in the war. The Chinese government may only be interested in improving the lives of its citizens. Secret sources from China have indicated that China is not an enemy to the USA and that it may only fight if forced by the USA to do so.

Position

In the midst of the above controversies, the war between the two countries is evitable. This may appear ridiculous given the amount of money the two governments have invested in their military forces. However, the fact remains that if the US government would acknowledge the fact that it would not be possible for it together with its allies to bar China from becoming a major player in the world politics, then the war would be managed effectively.[x] This does not mean that the US government should sit back and watch things happen as though it does not have a stake in world politics, but it means that the US government should approach the issue from a different perspective. The perspective that would involve reinvesting in the current western orders of world politics and reinforcing their features so that there can be integration, restraint, and engagement in world politics.[xi]

The first thing to do in reinvesting in the western orders of politics would be to establish the USA as a strong supporter of the orders in global governance. Doing this will ultimately attract the attention of other global players, especially the US allies. It will also attract China into the orders because China is already a party to the majority of these orders.[xii] However, weakening these orders as the current administration appears to be doing with the NATO issue may drive Western countries away from western orders.

Renewing the western orders, however, will force the US government to desist from deploying nuclear weapons to its military bases across Asia and Pacific. This will assure other players in world politics that the USA is committed to resolving issues through non-violent measures. Nevertheless, if the US government will use force on China as it has done with Iraq and Libya, then the US allies may not be drawn to the US side. The fact remains that each of the US allies is concerned about its future and security.[xiii] As a result, these allies may promote their nationalistic interests as the US has been doing, and the interests may not always work in the favor of USA.

The second thing for the USA to do would be to renew its support for multilateral institutions. Economically, this would involve strengthening the structure of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It would also involve extending market opportunities through trade liberalization, especially to the developing countries. The focus of doing this would be to ensure that the western order system is both rule-based and open to all economic players. The third most important thing for the USA to do would be to integrate the rising developing countries such as China and India into the global organizations and politics. This would reduce the current tension.

While arguing that it would be important for the USA to evade the war and approach the issue through western order systems, it would be important to acknowledge the fact that the western order system is a distinctive one. It is liberal rather than imperial in the sense that its institutions and rules are rooted in the evolving global forces of capitalism and democracy.[xiv] Therefore, the system is legitimate, accessible and durable. More importantly, it is able to generate tremendous power and economic growth for all players while restraining them. From this perspective, it is clear that if the USA will continue to engage in competing camps with China, the world politics might split into two or even more factions. This will obviously affect the current position of USA as a super power despite advancing US nationalism. If the USA will utilize the western order system, China will be assured of its position in world politics. Therefore, it will be immaterial for China to engage in a war that will not be beneficial.

So far, the war is evitable because China has embraced certain institutions and rules of the western order system for security purposes. Firstly, China is a member of the UN Security Council. As far as international security is concerned, this is an important move towards ending the long-standing war between the two countries. Secondly, China is a member of the current open global economic system.[xv] This is an important aspect because China may not be threatened by the current US practices on trade and cooperation. Indeed, China is protected from protectionism and discrimination in the world trade. Therefore, the war on China may be evitable.

Looking at the war issue from a western order system, there is no need for the USA to engage in the fight with China. If applied effectively, the system is capable of turning China into a powerful nation in a manner that is favorable to the USA. However, this will only take place if the USA focuses its attention on strengthening the current system. As a result, the Trump administration should desist from being hostile to the western institutions and rules that the US government has advocated for since the cold war ended.[xvi]

Conclusion

In order to resolve the issue at hand, it is important for the USA to realize that China is on its way to becoming a global power. In the last couple of decades, it has quadrupled the size of its economy; in addition, there are strong indications that the current size of the economy might double in the coming years. Besides this growth, China has accumulated immense foreign reserves. It has also invested heavily in its military force and extended its reach to the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. This being the case, it would be important for the US to deal with the rise of China from a different approach. The best approach right now would be to revive the western system rather than go into the fight alone. Ikenberry claims that if the USA will tackle China alone, then China might win the battle. However, if the USA will revive the western systems, then the USA might win the battle.

Based on the two predictions, the best thing for the USA to do is to acknowledge the fact that power transition in the world politics is a recurring issue. Today, the power is in the hands of USA, tomorrow it might be in the hands of another nation. Although this truth is hard for any super power to take, it is be important for the USA to take it positively and address the issue differently. If the USA would do this, it would remain a powerful nation capable of creating and enforcing rules and institutions that can be used to pursue American security and national interests. The fact remains that while China is struggling to improve the living standards of its citizens through its current practices, it is also in the process of translating its lately attained powers into greater authority in the world politics. Consequently, the best way to deal with the rise of China would be to ensure that China does not flex its muscles directly on the USA because doing so would be dangerous to the USA. Such a practice would obviously undermine the US current position as a super power, if China would win the battle. Therefore, if Ikenberry’s prediction would be something to go by, then the USA should not face China directly. Instead, USA should face China and its rise through western order system.[xvii]

As far as the First World War is concerned, USA should learn from Germany. The USA should learn that whereas Germany had a significant advantage over the United Kingdom in terms of military and economic powers, the growth of Germany posed threat to other European great powers. The European great powers of the time joined and fought Germany because their security was threatened.[xviii] Inasmuch as other nations might join to fight China, which is an emerging nation, the nations might as well join to fight the USA, if their security would be threatened. Going by the current US practices that appear to undermine the western systems, the Western nations might collude with China to fight the USA. Russia, in particular, might be willing to do this to redeem its image as a powerful nation. Therefore, it would be important for USA to evade the war and address the issue through western systems.

 

Bibliography

Broder, Jonathan. “ The ‘inevitable war’ between the U.S and China.” Newsweek, June 22, 2016. http://europe.newsweek.com/south-china-sea-war-nuclear-submarines-china-united-states-barack-obama-xi-473428?rm=eu  (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

Cociani, Ricardo. “Is war with China inevitable?” The telegraph, April 18, 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/18/is-war-with-china-inevitable/  (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

Eland, Ivan. Is future conflict with China unavoidable? Oakland: The independent institute, 2006.

Escobar, Pepe. “Is war inevitable in the South China sea.” RT, July 27, 2016. https://www.rt.com/op-edge/353532-war-south-china-sea-us/  (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

Friedberg, Aaron. “The future of U.S-China relations: Is conflict inevitable?” International security 30, no. 2 (2005): 7-45.

Hendrix, Jerry. “Is war with China now inevitable.” National review, May 24, 2016. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/435749/us-china-east-asian-war-more-likely-because-obamas-inaction  (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

Ikenberry, John. “The rise of China and the future of the west: Can the liberal system survive?” Foreign affairs 87, no. 1 (2008): 23-37.

Jaffe, S. “America vs. China: Is war simply inevitable?” The national interest, October 18, 2015. http://nationalinterest.org/feature/america-vs-china-war-simply-inevitable-14114  (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

Pilger, John. “Is war between China and America inevitable? John Pilger investigates as Donald Trump provokes Beijing.” Mirror, Dec. 7, 2016. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/war-between-china-america-9398234 (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

Tikhonova, Polina. “Why war between China and the U.S is inevitable.” Value walk, October 22, 2015. http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/10/why-war-between-china-and-the-u-s-is-inevitable/ (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

Zhou, Jinghao. “American perspective versus Chinese expectation on China’s rise.” International journal of China studies 2, no. 3 (2011): 625-645.

 

Notes

[i] Pilger, John. “Is war between China and America inevitable? John Pilger investigates as Donald Trump provokes Beijing.” Mirror, Dec. 7, 2016. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/war-between-china-america-9398234 (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

[ii] Eland, Ivan. Is future conflict with China unavoidable? Oakland: The independent institute, 2006.

[iii] Escobar, Pepe. “Is war inevitable in the South China sea.” RT, July 27, 2016. https://www.rt.com/op-edge/353532-war-south-china-sea-us/  (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

[iv] Zhou, Jinghao. “American perspective versus Chinese expectation on China’s rise.” International journal of China studies 2, no. 3 (2011): 625-645.

[v] Pilger, John. “Is war between China and America inevitable? John Pilger investigates as Donald Trump provokes Beijing.” Mirror, Dec. 7, 2016. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/war-between-china-america-9398234 (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

[vi] Tikhonova, Polina. “Why war between China and the U.S is inevitable.” Value walk, October 22, 2015. http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/10/why-war-between-china-and-the-u-s-is-inevitable/ (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

[vii] Eland, Ivan. Is future conflict with China unavoidable? Oakland: The independent institute, 2006.

[viii] Cociani, Ricardo. “Is war with China inevitable?” The telegraph, April 18, 2016. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/18/is-war-with-china-inevitable/  (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

[ix] Friedberg, Aaron. “The future of U.S-China relations: Is conflict inevitable?” International security 30, no. 2 (2005): 7-45.

[x] Hendrix, Jerry. “Is war with China now inevitable.” National review, May 24, 2016. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/435749/us-china-east-asian-war-more-likely-because-obamas-inaction  (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

[xi] Ikenberry, John. “The rise of China and the future of the west: Can the liberal system survive?” Foreign affairs 87, no. 1 (2008): 23-37.

[xii] Ikenberry, John. “The rise of China and the future of the west: Can the liberal system survive?” Foreign affairs 87, no. 1 (2008): 23-37.

[xiii] Jaffe, S. “America vs. China: Is war simply inevitable?” The national interest, October 18, 2015. http://nationalinterest.org/feature/america-vs-china-war-simply-inevitable-14114  (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

[xiv] Ikenberry, John. “The rise of China and the future of the west: Can the liberal system survive?” Foreign affairs 87, no. 1 (2008): 23-37.

[xv] Ikenberry, John. “The rise of China and the future of the west: Can the liberal system survive?” Foreign affairs 87, no. 1 (2008): 23-37.

[xvi] Broder, Jonathan. “ The ‘inevitable war’ between the U.S and China.” Newsweek, June 22, 2016. http://europe.newsweek.com/south-china-sea-war-nuclear-submarines-china-united-states-barack-obama-xi-473428?rm=eu  (accessed Feb. 4, 2017).

[xvii] Ikenberry, John. “The rise of China and the future of the west: Can the liberal system survive?” Foreign affairs 87, no. 1 (2008): 23-37.

[xviii] Ikenberry, John. “The rise of China and the future of the west: Can the liberal system survive?” Foreign affairs 87, no. 1 (2008): 23-37.