The probability of a war between China and the US is quite high

New military alliance and old presidents do not mix well

The probability of a war between China and the US is quite high. So says strategic analyst Paul van Hooft of The Hague Center for Strategic Studies HCSS in the BNR podcast The Strategist. Political scientist Friso Dubbelboer of the Leiden Asia Centre also sees tensions rising. ‘This is very serious.’

Rather than fearing a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, Dubbelboer is more afraid of “a miss” like the near-collision in 2001 between an American and a Chinese fighter plane over the South China Sea. What makes the situation different, he says, is that 22 years on, China is in the game differently and has become much more powerful militarily. And there are bigger stakes at stake. “The situation today is so much more tense than it was in those days that I think that’s a real concern.

According to Van Hooft, military tension between the two superpowers has been building for 20 to 25 years. ‘The U.S. and China have been preparing for war with each other for decades, and nowadays with increasing speed.’ For example, China is building certain long-range missiles to destroy American air camp ships and with which it can hit American airports and ports while the U.S. is also in that arms race.

‘I think the probability of war between the U.S. and China is pretty high,’ Van Hooft says. He points out how militarized US foreign policy is and how few diplomatic and economic measures the Biden administration is taking to engage states in the region. At the same time, Biden is going far beyond Trump’s “blunt economic warfare” by stopping the economic development of high technology in China. ‘It’s not like we can find leads for diplomacy there now.’

Of the countries in the region, the vast majority are members of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but that does not mean it is a homogeneous group. On the contrary, some are close to China, some further away from it, with or without a maritime status. And that explains the different geopolitical positions of those countries and their different approach to China.

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