The United States and China are headed for conflict in a geopolitical environment that is changing quickly, with Taiwan at the core of escalating hostilities. A breakdown in military communication routes between the two superpowers has made the threat of a third major world battle much more imminent. Experts fear that the situation has reached a critical point where war might become a harsh reality as President Biden gets ready for a crucial meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
The high-stakes encounter between Biden and Xi takes place against the background of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco. This meeting is crucial in diplomatic efforts to restore ties that have swiftly deteriorated. A heated meeting is anticipated given the increased technological competitiveness and China’s more daring military actions in the South China Sea and near Taiwan.
Central to the escalating crisis is China’s deliberate unpredictability and refusal to engage in communication channels designed to prevent conflicts. Analysts, including Lyle Goldstein, Director of Asia Engagement at Defense Priorities, express deep concerns about the situation’s acute nature, emphasizing the imminent risk of war. The fear is that without a breakthrough to ease mistrust, the current crisis could spiral out of control.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Charles Q. Brown Jr., emphasizes the critical need to restore military communication lines that Beijing cut down as payback for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s high-profile visit to Taipei. In order to avoid miscalculations between the Chinese and American forces, the restoration of these channels is considered “hugely important”.
China’s military has carried out more than 180 dangerous intercepts against American surveillance planes in the Pacific during the previous two years, demonstrating the erratic nature of the situation beyond diplomatic posturing. China’s activities have significant geopolitical ramifications, particularly in light of its attempts to coerce Taiwan, an independent island that China claims as its own. According to senior U.S. intelligence sources, Chinese President Xi Jinping has instructed his troops to be ready for an invasion of Taiwan by 2027.
Beijing’s attempts to sway Taiwan’s January presidential election demonstrate the political intent behind these military provocations. China hopes to psychologically and physically wear down Taiwanese resistance in order to force the people of the island to submit to its aspirations for unification.
China’s unwillingness to participate in military-to-military relations is concerning as the United States advocates for their revival. According to Michael Allen, Managing Director of Beacon Global Strategies, China is pursuing an unsettling approach by trying to make the United States feel more uneasy and unstable.
In a further layer of complexity, China incorporates civilian ships into military exercises, increasing uncertainty and making it harder for the U.S. to decipher China’s intentions. Taiwan, actively monitoring abnormal drills on the Chinese side of the Taiwan Strait, reveals the growing disregard for established norms of military behavior in the region.
Diplomatic efforts continue in spite of the great obstacles and possibility for war. In a region rife with geopolitical tensions, President Biden’s meeting with Xi Jinping assumes historic significance, providing a glimpse of hope for de-escalation and a return to calm. With great awareness that the conclusion might drastically alter the global order, the world watches the leaders with trepidation as they negotiate these dangerous seas.