"It cannot be taken for granted and fantasized that conflict will never erupt between [the U.S. and China]," said Shi Yinhong a professor at the Renmin University of China's Institute of International Relations. He made these remarks during a speech at Renmin's National Institute of Development and Strategy, where he argued that the formerly stable relationship between the U.S. and China can never be recovered.
"The stability of the past three years between the two countries is gone, and without new stability, there will be war," insisted Shi. "So, there must be new strategic stability which will be achieved by being practical, sufficiently focused and through specific and important proposals, dialogues or negotiations."
While Shi believes that the current situation between the world's two great powers makes it almost impossible for either side to significantly back down from their simmering rivalry, the election of President Joe Biden has presented itself as an opportunity for the U.S. "to be influenced and shaped by China to a large extent," and for the Chinese Communist Party to make "appropriate adjustments" to its strategic policies in order to cater to the new administration.
To do this, Shi argued that China needs to make two strategic choices.
First, China must implement significant adjustments to its military strategy. The country can use the possibility of revising its current military policies and commitments as a basic condition for conducting negotiations with the U.S. The goal of these negotiations should be to significantly reduce the risk of unwanted collisions or incidents between the two powers on "strategic frontiers," while promoting "strategic stability."
Secondly, Shi argued that, for a certain period of time, without any exceptions, China cannot have any kind of confrontation with any other country in the world – be they a developed or a developing nation – unless it is with either the U.S. or the United Kingdom. Shi said that the purpose of this is to keep the country's focus specifically on America and to reduce the possibility of having to divert resources to deal with "first- and second-tier opponents." (Related: China exploiting Caribbean nations to build military and missile bases that can threaten the continental United States.)
Shi believes that the need for the U.S. and China to stabilize relations is more important now than ever, because their "strategic frontiers" are inching closer and closer as time passes. It's only a matter of time before a confrontation breaks out, which Shi said "should not be taken for granted" as some kind of fantasy that will never happen.
"We must strive to solve new strategic problems through practical thinking, sufficient focus and dialogues or negotiations on important proposals. At the same time, this will also serve to isolate the views towards China of the U.S. political class and to win over other important countries in the world with more understanding and sympathy for China."
Shi is not the only person who believes the tense relationship between the U.S. and China could one day lead to war if it isn't cooled off immediately. Admiral Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, recently warned that the military must prepare for the "very real possibility" of nuclear war breaking out with either China or Russia.
"There is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons," he wrote in Proceedings, the journal of the Naval Institute. Richard is demanding that country needs to "prepare for the conflict we prefer, instead of one we are likely to face."
Richard argued that the CCP is currently in the process of making "technological leaps in capabilities in every domain," and Russia is "aggressively modernizing its nuclear forces."
Richard warned that if the U.S. does not act quickly, it suffers the risk of becoming an embarrassment or worse.
"Consequently, the U.S. military must shift its principal assumption from 'nuclear employment is not possible' to 'nuclear employment is a very real possibility,' and act to meet and deter that reality," he wrote. "We cannot approach nuclear deterrence the same way. It must be tailored and evolved for the dynamic environment we face."
Richard concluded his article by stating that Strategic Command currently assesses the probability of a conflict involving nuclear weapons to be low, but not impossible. But Richard argued that as America's main adversaries "continue to build capability and exert themselves globally," the country must remain vigilant and prepare for this possibility.
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