What Are The Chances Of War With China?

By the year 2012, or 2017, or 2022, what are the chances China’s military engages US forces?

Difficult question. But one which is better than asking the title question—because nobody goes to war anymore, we just have “conflicts.”

Your author does not pretend to have a definitive answer to the question. Instead, I have a small collection of evidence which appears probative. This is only a sampling. See the DOD report on China’s military for more information.

Any number of casus belli are possible, the main being Taiwan declaring itself what it is, i.e. de facto independent. Contretemps with India are more than a possibility. Already, there have been several clashes of Indian and Chinese naval forces. And then there is Japan which, though somewhat anemic militarily speaking, has, or probably has, the full backing of the U.S.A, but which also has a peculiar relationship with China. There is no love between these nations.

I think the chance that China engages anyone but the US is high, increasing as time progresses. The chance of direct US involvement is small, but the chance of indirect involvement quite high. This might be nothing more than parking a carrier in the Taiwan Straight, with that country’s permission, of course.

  • Taiwan’s presidential election is just three months off. In the lead is incumbent Ma from the KMT, a party when leans on reconciliation with China. His opponent is Tsai Ing-wen (whose first name is literally “English language”) is of the DPP, a party which is pro-independence.
  • China’s military builds apace. They have a new aircraft carrier, bought other vessels from Russia, new subs (albeit diesel), aircraft, are developing a stealth fighter (which they, surely coincidentally, first tested when old Joey Biden paid a visit to that country), have “begun operational deployment of the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile system”, have “117,702 males of military service age available for conscription each year,” etc., etc. Of these increases, Admiral Mike Mullen stated, “I have moved from being curious to being genuinely concerned.”
  • China has had several brushes with Japan, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines, some merely for the sake of antagonism, others over disputed boundaries on water and land. Most of the new missiles she is building are pointed at Taiwan. China claims it owns the water right up the shore of the Philippines. “[I]n late July, a Chinese ship attempted to intercept an Indian warship, the INS Airavat, off the Vietnamese coast…India has stepped up its defense ties with Vietnam, winning access to naval ports while helping Hanoi ready a new fleet of submarines.”
  • Chinese sea claims

  • The Chinese Communist Party-run (and written) Global Times “called” on Beijing “to declare war on Vietnam and the Philippines” when those countries defended their own waters. The paper did so in an op-ed entitled, “A good time to take military action in the South China Sea.” Quote: “Do not worry about small-scale wars; it is the best way to release the potential of war. Play a few small battles and big battles can be avoided.”
  • In a public document Hu Jintao listed as first priority protecting and shoring up the ruling regime. Social harmony came in at number three. But in that line, an American Idol-type show called Super Girl was yanked from TV because State censors found the show “subversive because the audience voting too closely represented Western-style democracy.”
  • China owns over $1.5 Trillion in Treasury Bills—which we would not, if attacked, feel compelled to pay back. The country will need this money when its real estate bubble pops, as they always do. That bubble swells: there are an entire empty cities of unoccupied spanking new buildings.
  • Patriotism is on the rise in China, where the citizenship, with plenty of good reasons and some bad, still smart from the drubbing they took in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; the “century of humiliation” as they call it. Every theater in the country was made to turn all screens dark except for showings of Beginning of the Great Revival, a hagiography of Mao as an idealistic young man in love, the time before his syphilitic whoring and dispassionate murdering began in earnest. Reports are that the movie was liked.
  • China is building Azmat class fast attack craft for Pakistan. These craft are “equipped with advanced weaponry and sensors, including the C802A surface-to-surface missile, and [have] stealth features.” Pakistan will use these weapons to attain “peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”
  • China continues its business with Iran where the “volume of China’s imports of Iranian crude rose about 50 percent in the first seven months of 2011.” Hillary is on it and has “stressed the need for continued Chinese restraint in investing in Iran’s energy sector.”
  • The Obama administration was cowed by Chinese We-Won’t-Like-You-Anymore threats when it decided to not sell Taiwan new F-16s, which would have replaced that country’s aging wing of (crash prone) F-5s. In Obama’s favor, there is a widespread belief, or at least rumor, that Chinese spies are filthy in Taiwan’s military. A Taiwanese military-written white paper tacitly admits this. Some say that selling Taiwan arms is like awarding China blueprints. Taiwan is countering Chinese missiles with its own “Wan Chien” or “Ten Thousand Swords” missile system.
  • The US military is shrinking. “[T]he U.S Navy needs 328 ships compared to the current 284…the U.S. Air Force will have a tactical aircraft shortfall of an astounding 800 planes in the next few years. The Navy and Marine Corps are projecting a 200-fighter shortfall in the same time period.”

Update I neglected to add China’s ever-growing and blatant use of hacking.


  1. GoneWithTheWind

    Unlike a coin toss or many other predicable things in life this questions depends on what others (primarily the U.S. and Russia) do. China will absolutely take back Taiwan, one day when our back is turned our fleets are far away and our military forces have been cut back China will use rockets and a D-day style landing and take the entire island in 24 hours. It will be a done deal and they will be sitting there with a million fighting men and 500 ships daring us to take it back. Everyone in Taiwan is trying to obtain duel citizenship and they all think there will be a buildup of tensions and they will fly off to Canada and be safe. BS! China will mask their intent, even be extrodinarily nice and one morning a 2:00 am they will attack killing half of the resident of Taiwan. China is building their military dramatically, why? Also; What China needs badly is land, a lot of land and a lot of natural resources. It needs to be close enough for them to “take” easily and it would be nice if the populations was small so it would be easy to take and occupy. Does Australia ring a bell??? After Taiwan it will be open agression and a move on Australia. The U.S.?? Eventually.

  2. Gary

    You might include the gender imbalance in mainland China as a factor. An excess of males with poor prospects for marriage has potential for civil unrest. It’s been said that medieval kings send their knights off to the Crusades to get the exuberant males out of their hair. Why not the same tactic for the Chinese rulers?

  3. Doug M

    I will put my nickle that China succumbs to some sort of civil war. The reprocussions, and human cost of wich will be really ugly.

  4. The timing of an Asian implosion – and I, too, believe one to be inevitable – should become more discernible as an increasing number of Chinese upper crust [entrepreneurial] families acquire luxurious “second” homes in safer, warmer climes. Moguls will go to extreme lengths to ensure their clan survives. In the 30 hours preceding an attack large numbers of private jets will depart Asia for points south. That’s probably as much warning as the world will receive.

  5. Will

    There will be no war so long as cheap sneakers and jeans continue to flow from their country in to ours. Should that flow stop, I think we only need look at how England resolved the issue of tea exports a few short hundred years ago…

  6. Historically over the last 500 years, when a rising power comes into conflict with an empire then the probability of war is 6 out of 7.

    What is the probability that China gets into a conflict with America?

    Considering the substantial cultural differences, communist leadership and historical grievances with the West, then it seems highly likely that conflict will ensue.

    How could one reduce the chance of conflict?

    Change the communist leadership to a democracy, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

    The historical signs of 20th century war as given by historian Niall Ferguson: Empires in decline, economic volatility and ethnic conflict. The first two are clearly present in the world today, and represent the foundation for war. The third acts as a catalyst. Ethnic conflict represents a conflict between civilizations – an Israeli conflict with its neighbors.

    There are several different sets of historical signs for war that are present: World War I signs, 20th century signs, generational crisis periods (current crisis period 2005 to 2025), Christian prophecy, Islamic prophecy, societal crashes (why a depression brings war), signs with Russia, signs with China and signs with Iran.

    If you’ve been paying attention then you will know that Israel’s neighbors are getting ready for a war unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. It is likely that chemical weapons will be used against Israeli cities, and the response will be nuclear.

    So why would China want to go to war with America?

    There is only one reason: It believes a war is inevitable and chooses to launch a preemptive strike to force a more favorable outcome. This is the real reason World War I started, and the reason Japan attacked at Pearl Harbor.

    Why does China believe a war is inevitable?

    America is encircling China with a missile defense system which might be able to neutralize China’s second strike capability in the future. America is also working with countries in the area to counter China.

    China is a massively unstable society due to corruption and no mechanism for the redress of grievances. Once China experiences an economic crash then the communist leadership could be in big trouble.

    Nuclear war in the Middle East could provide China an excuse to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on America at a later date – probably the next spring. I would anticipate that Russia would join this nuclear strike, but that’s another article.

    If Israel wipes out its neighbors, and China and Russia do nothing, then surely Iran will. It is developing a super-EMP nuclear weapon. This is a small nuclear weapon that throws off massive amounts of EMP. Just two or three of these babies launched from ship containers off our coasts will send the US back to the 1800s. Within one year 90% of the population will die.

    What’s the bottom line?

    Move out of America now.

  7. ErisGuy

    Given the many, many decades of vitriolic anti-Americanism in the Philippines, the conquest of the Philippines by China couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch–both of them.

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