South China Sea: Battleship deployment discussed by Jones
Lawrence Haas said the new conflict would bear striking similarities to the decades-long stand-off between the US and Russia and warned Washington would have to maintain an unchallenged military capacity to protect its presence in Asia and other regions as China seeks to dislodge or overshadow it. He urged Mr Biden to show the same “dogged determination” that Washington displayed during earlier conflicts to protect its interests and defend its allies.
Washington will need a comprehensive strategy to contain Beijing’s expansionist impulses
Prof Haas said: “Like the US-Soviet conflict, the Sino-American one is rooted in competition between alternative political and economic systems — one free and democratic, the other unfree and authoritarian — for influence around the world, with enormous implications for the well-being of billions of people.
“Also like the US-Soviet conflict, Washington will need a comprehensive strategy to contain Beijing’s expansionist impulses.
“While hopefully avoiding a military confrontation with Beijing, Washington will need to maintain an unchallenged military capacity to protect its presence in Asia and other regions as China seeks to dislodge or overshadow it, and to use public diplomacy effectively as the two nations compete for the loyalty of grassroots populations around the world.”
Joe Biden and Xi Jinping
Prof Haas, senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, said signs of the coming US-China conflict were unmistakable and that similarities to the cold war of yesteryear were “uncanny”.
He said Soviet leaders boldly predicted an inevitable victory over what they considered as America’s decaying capitalist structure.
He said: “Similarly, Chinese leader Xi Jinping now asserts that ‘the East is rising, while the West is in decline’ — a contention that President Biden dismissed in his phone chat with Xi.
“US officials worry that, convinced of America’s decline, Beijing may raise the risks of a direct US-China confrontation by testing US resolve a bit too recklessly.”
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Chinese leader Xi Jinping
Prof Haas said rising tensions over Beijing’s increasingly aggressive attitude towards Taiwan had echoes of Moscow’s stance on the divided city Berlin which led to then US President John F Kennedy vowing to go to war rather than sacrifice America’s position there.
He said US officials were once again making clear that Washington will not sit by and abandon Taiwan after formally committing to support the island’s government.
The foreign affairs specialist said: “In response to aggressive Chinese activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea, US officials have criticised what they regard as Beijing’s threats to the rules-based international order.
“After meeting with Japanese officials in Tokyo, US officials reiterated America’s commitment to Japan’s defence, including to protect the Senkaku Islands that, they fear, China is eyeing.”
A US aircraft carrier in the South China Sea
Xi Jinping has more than doubled China’s budget for its military in the last 10 years and has created the largest navy in the world with around 350 ships and submarines, with more than 130 major surface combatants.
But a security analyst has said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is not invincible as China has not fought in a war in more than 40 years.
Oriana Skylar Mastro, an expert in Chinese security policy at Stanford University, warned how the PLA would perform in combat is the “million-dollar question”.
She said: “No officer in the US military considers that orders might not be carried out.
“If you tell your troops to charge a hill, they charge a hill.
“In China, that’s a huge uncertainty, whether the troops would actually run toward the bullets, instead of away.”
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US military power
China military power
Ms Mastro added how “Xi Jinping doesn’t know and this is the thing that imposes the most caution on Chinese leadership, the uncertainty of how the Chinese military is actually going to perform”.
But Prof Haas warned: “The US faces another ‘long twilight struggle’ as JFK said of the US-Soviet conflict.
“Here’s hoping that its leaders and people retain the resolve to do what it takes to protect the US-led side.”