There is a sincere possibility the United States will be engaged in some sort of conflict with China during the next four years.
We may have the stage set for it over the weekend.
In what Beijing is calling a “serious political and military provocation,” the USS Stethem destroyer sailed fewer than 12 nautical miles from Triton Island in the Paracel Islands archipelago in the South China Sea.
China, Vietnam, and and Taiwan all claim the island as their own.
Coming mere hours before a scheduled phone call between President Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping, the military operation was meant to demonstrate navigation freedom.
Following a series of US actions that upset Beijing, Chinese state media reported that President Xi told Trump bilateral relations were “affected by some negative factors.”
According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang stated late Sunday that China dispatched military vessels and fighter planes after it discovered that the USS Stethem had entered the disputed waters.
Lu Kang said:
“The Chinese side strongly urges the US side to immediately stop such kind of provocative operations that violate China’s sovereignty and threaten China’s security.”
He added that Beijing would continue to enact all necessary means to defend its national sovereignty and security.
This was the second similar operation the United States carried out since Trump took office. It comes days after the administration took several measures seemingly deliberately designed to strain US-Chinese relations.
Last Tuesday, the US State Department placed China on the world’s worst human trafficking offenders list.
Thursday, Trump authorized a $1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on a Chinese bank alleged to have laundered money from North Korea, and the State Department expressed concern about Beijing’s respect for freedom in Hong Kong.
All this flies in the face of Trump’s claim that the United States maintains an “outstanding” relationship with China after President Xi visited Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago resort in April, which resulted in an agreement allowing the US to export beef and natural gas to China.
Trump even praised China’s efforts to pressure North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs. When North Korea then conducted new missile tests in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, however, Trump tweeted:
“At least I know China tried!”
Shortly after the November presidential election, Trump spoke with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen, believed to be the first conversation between Taiwan and the United States since China pressured America and Taiwan to sever communication back in 1979.
Beijing did not react well.
Trump brushed it off as a mere friendly exchange between one leader congratulating the then President-elect.
Mid-December, China’s seized an American underwater drone in the South China Sea.
Filmed over two years in the Marshall Islands, Japan, Korea, China and the United States, Australian filmmaker John Pilger’s documentary The Coming War on China reveals an increase in war footing with China. Pilger shows that more than 400 U.S. military bases encircle China in what one strategist calls “a perfect noose.”
Since World War II and the detonation of the atomic bomb on Japan, the United States has been positioning itself for hegemony over Southeast Asia, in direct opposition to Chinese sovereignty.
As Pilger states in the film’s trailer:
“The world is being primed to regard China as a new enemy.”
He draws a parallel between our 70 years of posturing and the rise of a president who seems to have little regard for treaties, decorum, and policy.
Featured image from YouTube video.