Reasons that Would Spark a War between America and China

In his 2017 speech, the Chinese president said that China was ready to fill the void in global leadership created by the United States of America, which is turning inward more than outward. This statement might be provocative enough to fuel a third world war between America, a country that has exclusively dominated the world for decades, and China from the East, which may quench its thirst only by removing America from the throne of world leadership.

Why wouldn’t this happen? Aren’t we already sensing trouble brewing, on the verge of destroying the entire world and wiping it out of existence? What the Chinese president said is nothing but the culmination of deep-rooted disagreements between Beijing and Washington.

Later on, U.S. President Joe Biden said, “America is back,” confirming this raging conflict between America, the old hero, and the newcomer: China.

The dispute between China and America is, of course, not instantaneous nor unexpected by America, which is well aware that unless Washington moves quickly to confront this frightening Chinese tide, the rising economic power in the Far East will — surely — destroy the strongholds of American power.

If we review the causes of the conflict between the “two poles of the new world,” we will find deadlock between them in many fields and arenas and on many levels. This may foretell a danger that could destroy humanity if the two parties do not reach points of agreement. The following is a review of the most important points of disagreement between the two parties.

The Dollar and the Yuan

The country that owns the strongest currency rules the world. China fixed the yuan exchange rate against the U.S. dollar. This means that Beijing worked on stabilizing the strength and dominance of the Chinese currency against the dollar, a worry to the White House as China, in so doing, supports its various products in global markets. The result is an increase in China’s exports, given that the prices of its products are cheaper than their American counterparts. It also severely affects U.S. exports, reduces revenue and increases the size of the trade deficit between the two countries. The value of imports from China to America over the last year amounted to $463 billion, compared to $116 billion in exports, with a trade deficit of $347 billion. American concern was heightened when it lost the throne of global trade in 2013 to China, which then became the largest trading country in the world.

The Silk Road Initiative To Rule the World

In 2013, Beijing officially launched the Belt and Road Initiative, with the aim of developing economic cooperation between countries along the historic Silk Road, which China seeks to activate by 2049. This project is a direct threat to America, because China is seeking to use it as a connective link with the whole world — and to become the center of the world and its first and unchallenged ruler.

Building economic infrastructure, such as roads and transportation, became necessary to enhance economic interdependence and facilitate trade. As a result, between 2013 and 2018, the largest proportion of Chinese foreign investment was channeled to those countries’ physical infrastructure. Included were ports and railways, with the total Chinese investment in this field amounting to about $90 billion, while the relevant Belt and Road countries invested more than $40 billion in China. Thus, China laid its hand on many countries, many of which are now captured by Chinese money.

The Huawei Crisis

Economic cooperation based on information and communication technology and the application of other new technologies in the Belt and Road Initiative countries is called the “Digital Silk Road.” Due to its wide success, the Belt and Road Initiative has been integrated into the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to achieve development goals. However, the Digital Silk Road is much more than a technology/infrastructure project. For China, this route is a less U.S.-centric solution and a more China-centric Asian and global digital system. This infrastructure work is led by the IT giant Huawei, the linchpin of the Chinese technology facing America. Therefore, America imposed severe sanctions on the company, because the United States realizes the danger of China’s control and that of its linchpin over internet cables across the world — threats to Washington’s position and its digital and informational dominance of the world.

Through these endeavors, China’s ultimate aim is to enable the opening of new markets for Chinese tech giants, such as Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei, to enhance global digital connectivity with China, and to reduce the country’s dependence on other technology leaders, especially the United States, Japan and some European countries.

The former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, believes that the internet may split in two within 10 years. He said that the Chinese government’s endeavor to develop its global political and economic influence by building trade in Asia and Africa through the Belt and Road Initiative, which includes dozens of countries, will accelerate the creation of a Chinese-led internet.

Intellectual Property

The crisis between the two countries reached its climax with a statement from former U.S. President Donald Trump: “Chinese theft of American IP currently costs between $225 billion and $600 billion annually.”

In 2017, Trump decided to undertake commercial investigations into China’s intellectual property practices and the transfer of American technologies to China without observing American intellectual property rights, which China categorically rejects.

Washington also accused Beijing of forcing American companies to transfer their intellectual property to China, claiming that a number of American companies lost hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs to Chinese companies, which seized their ideas or software or forced them to hand over intellectual property rights to carry out business in China.

South China Sea

The South China Sea corridor constitutes $5 trillion in annual global maritime trade and is also believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves. Six countries compete over the sovereignty of the sea and the waterways: China in one camp, and Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei in another, backed by Washington against Beijing.

Moreover, tensions in the region have recently increased. Tensions in the sea are increasing due to China’s persistence and insistence on asserting its sovereignty over large parts of the sea, as it claimed about half of the southern sea, which prompted it to build a number of artificial islands in different places to impose its control over the sea.

The South China Sea crisis is one of the most prominent issues of dispute between China and America, due to conflict of interests between the two parties, and because America and its allies want to restrict China in its sea.

Observers view the crisis primarily as a major test of Chinese-American competition. China’s military power is escalating, especially its naval power, while the United States is trying to restrict that power in order to maintain its regional and global supremacy.

China considers democratic, self-governing Taiwan — which it will reclaim one day, by force if necessary — as part of its territory. Washington is the main ally of the island, supplying it with weapons without recognizing it diplomatically. Beijing, in turn, denounces any kind of arms sales or high-level contacts between the United States and Taiwan.

“Taiwan is an integral part of the Chinese territory,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying last February. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said, “If the U.S wants to embolden ‘Taiwan independence’ this way, then we have to say this to the U.S.: Such moves will only accelerate the demise of the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces. The U.S will pay a heavy price for its adventurist acts.”

Observers surmise that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justifications for entering Ukraine are similar to China’s justifications about its “historic right” to the island of Taiwan and self-protection from Western influence.

The Conflict over the Asian Continent and China’s Ambitions To Rule the World

China is working to change radically the balance of power in Asia, reduce the vitality of the U.S.-Asian alliance system and replace the United States of America, so that it becomes the leader of Asia as a first step toward world leadership. This is one of the most prominent concerns that haunted Barack Obama, Trump and Biden.

In order to achieve this and assume the leadership of Asia, China uses its economic power to lure Asian countries toward China and away from America. It also seeks to increase its military capabilities to support and enhance deterrence against U.S. military intervention in the region, while avoiding direct confrontation with the United States of America in the current decade.

China’s quest to control the international community was not random. Instead, China has invested great efforts in this project over the past years. China’s quest began in the early 21st century, as it sought leadership in many arenas currently constituting the major crises in the world, such as the environment and climate change. It also targeted leadership in the economy of the entire Asian continent.

With China becoming an economic superpower, its membership in the U.N. Security Council has taken on added significance, a fact highlighted by Beijing’s rejection of any expansion of the council’s structure that could diminish its long-term privileges.

Also, the increasing material capabilities of China made it closely related to all institutions of the global system. It is not surprising that it sought to achieve increased power in those entities, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as China worked on directing their operations to serve its own interests and purposes.

Chinese-American disagreements are numerous, large and deep. In addition to all the previous points of conflict, there are also American-Chinese disagreements about the climate convention, as well as Beijing’s cooperation with the Paris Agreement on climate, allowing China’s penetration of Europe, America’s strongest ally.

Moreover, China supports Tehran in its dispute with the major powers, and also backs North Korea. Another cause of dispute between the two countries is the COVID-19 crisis, referred to by Washington as the “Chinese virus,” and, finally, trade wars and the fifth generation of technology and internet lines.

Even one of these causes could fuel a war between the two major powers, notwithstanding the potential for reasons to combine and form a fuse that could ignite at any moment.

But the question is this: Will the two sides really enter into an internecine war? Or will the war be a pretext for the two rivals to sit at the same table and share their new spheres of influence?

Isn’t the war raging now in Ukraine a proxy war between America and China, especially because Russia’s economic situation does not entitle it to enter such a war?

Wolfgang Hearn said that we are on the cusp of a historic transformation in the global economy and international politics, for a major empire like China is setting its feet on the path to becoming a global superpower. Will this vision be realized?

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