Would China go to war with us?

China matters, so let's attempt to peer into the mind of President Xi and forecast his intentions, which is not an easy task.

It’s difficult for peace-loving Americans to believe other nations covet what we possess and will do more than just look on from a distance. 

We should take the lesson of Putin’s war in Ukraine as proof positive that there are those despotic leaders who are willing to set about a path of conquering other nations in the twenty-first century.

Freedom-loving people never want war. Not in more than a thousand years has one democracy attacked another. Up until the beginning of the Second World War, the U.S. has been protected to the East and West by the distance created by two oceans. We could absorb the first blow and have time to get ready, both politically and militarily, and prevail.

That luxury no longer exists and the likelihood of a conventional first strike at one of our outposts all over the world is more real than you might imagine. Diplomacy has an important place in our history and practice. But you only have to look at Iran and Russia and how they use diplomacy to enhance their ability to conduct wars of aggression and terrorism. They hide behind diplomacy by being disingenuous and duplicitous.  China will use all the levers of diplomatic power they have and then try and force bloodless victories through means other than actual war. This does not mean they are afraid to go to war, their calculus is that it is better to win a war without actually fighting whenever possible.

With this caveat, I’ll start with a simple and fundamentally true premise based on history and current events:

“A nation that is unprepared for war holding a belief in the goodwill of nations, will find itself at war anyway.”

China has several restraints holding them back from obtaining its ultimate goal to be the Great Power in the World:

  1. China is the most dependent nation on earth in matters of trade. Any military actions on their part will likely result in less trade rather than more.
  2. China is keenly aware that an unstable world economy will inevitably reduce its economic output.  This restrains their militaristic designs to a degree.
  3. China’s chickens have come to roost with its well-known one-child policy that has now been modified. China has a very large and ever-expanding class of older people who live long lives and require state support.
  4. China’s recent crackdown on both capitalism and other freedoms has hastened the departure of too many of China’s best and brightest to other countries.
  5. The renminbi, China’s currency, is overleveraged. China’s propensity to build and make things that are not economically viable are vestiges of its command and control economy. Regional governments, until recently, have stoked the real estate markets into something that will have consequential and negative repercussions for years to come. Read about Evergrande here to understand this issue more.
  6. You can’t overestimate the importance of China’s overconfidence. China has been militarily insular until recently. This translates into no real-world experience in the myriad disciplines of power projection and tactics; both strategic and tactical. It is one thing to read about the U.S. Order of Battle.  It is another thing entirely to assimilate hard-won lessons of war that then lead you to train as you intend to fight. China is counting on quantity over quality to overcome various deficits to counter more sophisticated Western weapons, vastly better command and control, and advanced war-fighting doctrines.  China is also counting on its more disciplined psychology and control of its population than the West.

There are other important facets that we could mention, but space does not allow it here.

China is by no means a paper tiger. China lacks the battle-tested and institutional memory of what works and what doesn’t.  That is layered on top of a political system that is autocratic and hierarchal by nature.  The National People’s Congress elects a 25-member Politburo that runs the country. President Xi in actuality has not just effective control of the country, but dictatorial powers.

China watchers will be looking to see if there is any effective challenge to Xi winning an unprecedented third term as president. Keep in mind that Xi is also the Communist Party of China leader. As I always mention, the communist party and the country are one in the same.

The topic of this article is “war warning.” Our history of relative failure on the battlefield since WWII has imbued us with a defeatist mentality. We lose because we have political leaders who don’t know how or don’t have the will to fight winning wars. Yes, war is horrific. But necessary at times to defend our freedoms.  

We would be unwise to become a pacifist nation as we were in the run-up to the Second World War. Public opinion is fickle. The day before Pearl Harbor, public opinion on entering the war in Europe was 84% against. The day after Pearl Harbor, that number changed to 97% in favor of entering this new war. When Americans are up against the wall again, I would expect a similar change of heart. Surprisingly, 42% of Americans are already in favor of “direct military action” in Ukraine. While not a majority; it appears as if we are starting to wake up to the larger threats in the world. There is hope for us yet!

One does not have to be a warmonger or a ‘War Hawk’ as one friend refers to me.  You only have to have a basic understanding of geopolitical history to understand what all those moving pieces mean to us. America’s internal weakness and its severely flawed leadership, not to mention the political infighting that sees us do stupid things, is not lost on our adversaries. An illustrative example is a monstrous idea of trading an imprisoned WNBA basketball star for a convicted mass murderer, the notorious Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout.  This is what non-serious people do. I can be sorry for Griner but like so many other uniformed Americans, why the heck do these people go to places like Iran, Syria, Russia, and other hotspots that our State Department issues dire warnings about?

Miscalculations cause wars. A serious and thoughtful government needs to keep pace with the changes, not in public opinion, but in the dynamics of world power.  Issues that distract us, both our government and the American people, keep us from seeing the truth that very much matters. Wishing away threats or offering appeasement only leads to a worse situation than before. Life is not easy. Let’s not live a life of fantasy. Sooner or later, reality catches up.

Although now disestablished, the Strategic Air Command’s motto was “peace through strength.” Never, in its entire history, did it drop a bomb in anger. And, this was during the Cold War, with arguably the highest tensions ever between the U.S. and Russia. The reason why is obvious…our enemies believed we were too strong to take on.

I hope we remember that lesson of peace through strength and demand our leaders remember it too.

God Bless America!

Allan J. Feifer is an author, businessman, and thinker. Read more about Allan, his background, and his ideas to create a better tomorrow at www.1plus1equals2.com

Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License


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