An increasingly assertive China has warned that World War 3 is “inevitable” unless the United States stops meddling in the South China Sea affairs. Earlier this week, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said in a new white paper that it is going to up the ante in the South China Sea. In a sign of its growing self-confidence, Beijing said that it would now focus less on defensive capabilities, and step up efforts to build offensive capabilities.
China ready to use force beyond its borders
China is aggressively building artificial islands in the disputed Spratly Islands. The construction includes runways and port facilities that could harbor military planes and warships. Islands in the region are also claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, who have all protested against China’s expansion.
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Last week, a U.S. military plane ignored repeated warning from the PLA to fly a reconnaissance mission over the disputed islands. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has refused to recognize artificial islands as “maritime zones control by a nation.” He said Washington was determined to protect the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, as is allowed under International conventions.
The Chinese military’s new white paper notes that it is ready to use force beyond its borders in the air and at sea “to safeguard its maritime possessions.” Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Communist Party, said that China does not want a war. But if the United States’ bottom line was to make China halt its activities, then a World War 3 was inevitable.
U.S. interference could trigger a World War 3
The newspaper suggests that China will not stop construction of these artificial islands at any cost. Any more interference by “external countries” could trigger a World War 3 and Beijing will “accept” it. Experts say neither United States nor China wants to back down. They fear that even a minor incident around the artificial islands could escalate rapidly into a full-fledged war.
Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at the Temple University, said that China misjudging the situation is the real concern. Neither country wants a war if it can be avoided, but both countries have some red lines, said Dujarric.