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Could a war carried out on the Korean Peninsula extend into a war between China and the United States?

A war with China would be utterly devastating even if nuclear weapons were not used. Such a war would challenge, if not invoke, World War Three.

Xi Jinping, president of the communist nation, has previously stated repeatedly that his nation is ready to replace the United States on the world stage should the U.S. withdraw from international agreements. President Trump has stated that China has unequivocally been given leeway by weak leaders to foment their rise. Regardless of such, a crisis is on the horizon, North Korea.

Should a second Korean War break out, it is unclear if China would side with the North. However, several pundits, analysts, and experts have historically claimed that North Korea is China’s bulldog. Given such, China has failed to reign in its ever increasingly mouthing ‘pet’, North Korea. From such a stand point, it is rather evident that a war between the two superpowers could eventually erupt. For instance, if the United States were to miscalculate a single strike things could go awry, and rather fast.

Historically, China and other nations have watched the United States, and in each war, the US has been in, they have learned our tactics, our weapons, our technology, and so on. It is safe to calculate that China is increasingly advancing militarily to compete and surpass the United States.

The latest congressional report in regards to China states the following;

China’s leaders remain focused on developing the capabilities to deter or defeat adversary power projection and counter third-party intervention—including by the United States—during a crisis or conflict. China’s officially-disclosed military budget grew at an average of 8.5 percent per year in inflation-adjusted terms from 2007 through 2016, and Chinese leaders seem committed to increases in defense spending for the foreseeable future, even as China’s economic growth slows.

China’s military modernization is targeting capabilities with the potential to degrade core U.S. military technological advantages. To support this modernization, China uses a variety of methods to acquire foreign military and dual-use technologies, including cyber theft, targeted foreign direct investment, and exploitation of the access of private Chinese nationals to such technologies. Several cases emerged in 2016 of China using its intelligence services, and employing other illicit approaches that violate U.S. laws and export controls, to obtain national security and export-restricted technologies, controlled equipment, and other materials.

As China’s global footprint and international interests have grown, its military modernization program has become more focused on supporting missions beyond China’s periphery, including power projection, sea lane security, counterpiracy, peacekeeping, and humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR). In February 2016, China began construction of a military base in Djibouti that could be complete within the next year. China likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has longstanding, friendly relationships.

In regards to China’s new military base in Djibouti, they just shipped troops to man their stations at China’s first international base. Over the course of the next several years, if the North Korean crisis either simmers or remains unchecked, China could seek to construct more and more military bases globally, over time an encounter could occur. However, as for the current crisis according to the executive summary of the congressional report, it would strongly appear as though China is not ready to surpass the United States, but they are gaining speed.

Economically, China has surpassed the US on many fronts, so much so, that according to the International Monetary Fund mouthpiece Christine Lagarde, in ten years their headquarters may end up being relocated to Beijing, that is of course if nothing erupts on the Korean peninsula.

China’s advancements point to one reality, they are directly gearing up to enter into what is called the Thucydides’ Trap, or in other words, the dangerous dynamic when a rising power threatens to displace the ruling one.

Is China Ready?

In order to accurately answer the question if a second Korean War could spill over into a war between China and the United States, one must observe the increasing push to place China as the replacement to US global dominance. If China is to replace the US as global leader, the question of the next play all depends on if China is ready to dance with the USA.

However, as Graham Allison and other members of the Belfer Center point out, China knows it doesn’t need to confront the USA.

Only time will tell how these events play out, but one thing is stringently clear, in these days, according to scripture; “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” – Matthew 24:6

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