The world is 'becoming dangerous' amid China threat says Bolt
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China issued its latest threat over the South China Sea on Monday as it warned the US, Canada and Australia against provoking it in the contested region. Beijing, which has sweeping claims over much of the sea, said the three nations must “refrain from abusing China’s restraint”. The warning from Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin came as he was answering a question about aggressive manoeuvres by Chinese pilots towards their Canadian and Australian counterparts. The question followed revelations reported by Politico last week that a Chinese fighter jet had an “unsafe” and “unprofessional” interaction with a US special operations C-130 aircraft in the South China Sea in June.
As Beijing continues to intensify tensions with Washington, a military expert has taken a look at what would happen if China and the US went to war in the South China Sea and the wider Indo-Pacific region.
Conflict between the two superpowers, led by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden, would be a “bloodbath”, according to Dr John Callahan.
The academic is a former diplomat and State Department spokesperson, who now works as a military adviser and a dean at New England College in the US.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “The Americans absolutely are more capable and could defeat China if the full power of the US armed forces was actually in the Pacific and actually fighting them where they are.
“The problem is, they would get some early licks in because the US is spread all over the world.
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“So, full capability, it would be a bloodbath, but we would win.
“But short term, the Chinese probably could achieve limited objectives simply because all of our forces aren’t there.”
The South China Sea has long been targeted by China, which claims sovereignty over much of the waters.
The resource-rich ocean boasts billions of barrels of untapped oil and huge reserves of natural gas.
However, China’s far-reaching sovereignty claims over the sea are disputed by Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam, which all have their own counterclaims.
Tensions between the regional players have flared in recent months, including over China’s aggression towards Taiwan.
Beijing, which views Taiwan as a Chinese breakaway province, has launched hundreds of air raids near the island nation in 2022.
The US remains embroiled in the regional disputes, having issued numerous warnings to China over its aggression towards Taiwan.
Last month, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin warned of “especially stark” stakes in the Taiwan Strait.
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also urged China to recognise a 2016 arbitration ruling that invalidated its claims in the South China Sea.
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He added that the US is obliged to defend the Philippines if it comes under attack in the contested region.
However, one of the most explicit references to war came back in January as China’s ambassador to the US Qin Gang warned of a “military conflict” with the US over Taiwan.
Amid the dramatic escalations in military rhetoric, Dr Callahan was asked if the region is in its most heightened period of tension so far.
He said: “Yes, I think so, because of Ukraine. Because if Russia pulls off some sort of convincing victory in Ukraine – which they won’t – that would certainly embolden China to act, and they would act.
“I think Xi is not the patient Chinese leader that all his predecessors were. I think he is a guy who wants to make his mark on history.
“It is personal to him. And I think the only thing holding China back is waiting to see how bad Russia gets their butt kicked in Ukraine.”
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