Tensions between America and China have been running high for over a decade. Our 1.3 trillion dollar debt to China is, of course, cause for immense concern for our foreign relations. Some have speculated, that due to an abundance of factors, China may be drawn into war with the U.S. When the evidence is examined, it’s apparent that a war with China is even probable.
China’s Defense Spending
China ranks second in the world for military spending, just behind the U.S. China’s defense budget has gone from 15 billion US dollars to 146 billion in just 16 years. That means China has increased it’s spending by almost a third, while we have decreased our budget by nearly 20%. China has become hegemonic, having military superiority in Asia. Estimates suggest that China’s budget could be doubled by 2020, amounting to 233 billion in defense spending.
Their vast increase in military budget may be in preparation for a war – a war against the United States. This isn’t just speculation. Such a dramatic increase in military spending is a trend seen over history, practiced by countries expecting a coming war. Even if it’s at the very least a Trade War that could escalate further than planned.
The spending seen in China is reminiscent of combatants prior to World War I. The nations readying themselves for war, particularly Britain and Germany, increased their military spending exponentially. In the early twentieth century, Germany was in the process of becoming a hegemonic power, building up its army and navy to eventually challenge those who would become the Allied powers in World War I. What the incidents of history tell us is cause for concern.
South China Sea
The South China Sea is becoming less and less “South China Sea” and more and more “South China Islands.” China is currently in the process of manufacturing their own islands along their borders to enlarge their territory. This new territory serves as a location for military and logistics bases, which breaks international law. Not only are they taking control through the islands they have created themselves, but also natural islands throughout the South China Sea. This has spurred conflict between the Northeast Asian nations surrounding China, as they have also attempted to lay claim to these territories. Disputes over these territories have been occurring since the end of the nineteenth century.
China’s attempts at laying claim to the resources belonging to other nations is a great source of unease for the US. It is a clear signal of their intentions toward military advancement, as well as being hostile towards its neighboring countries. Our concern lies with our interest in navigational freedom as well as potential trade complications. China’s regional takeover could restrict trade, and thusly harm our foreign relations with allies in the area who have turned to us for assistance in the matter. As a result, the US has threatened to get involved in the ordeal, setting China on edge. With a new president who is adamant about this problem, China just may be getting ready for a war with the US.
In 2015, our trade deficit with China totaled at 336.2 billion, and this number continues to climb. The cause of this deficit is due to paying more for Chinese imports than they pay for our exports. Trade aside, China purchases the second most US Treasury notes, leaving the US with a debt of 1.049 trillion. China making these loans as investments is definitely a strategic move on their part. China being the second-largest world economy has had a profound effect on our own economy. As can be inferred, this is simply another source of conflict between the US and China. This conflict may have finally come to a head by way of President Trump.
Trump stated on his campaign website, under the section of “Trump’s vision” that he would “instruct the U.S. Trade Representatives to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the WTO [World Trade Organization].” China is well aware of Trump’s opinion of them, adding flame to the fire. One Chinese military official recently stated that a war with a Trump-governed United States is “becoming a practical reality.”
What happens now is anyone’s guess. As tensions soar, the likelihood of a war with China continues to increase. If not a literal war, a cold war of diplomacy, trade and tense dialogue will most definitely ensue in the next four years.