Talk of war has become louder in recent days, but the “drumbeat” has been heard for some time now as China’s military capabilities have grown.
China does not want war, at least not yet. It’s playing the long game and its evident intentions have become more unnerving. Scholars like Brendan Taylor have identified four flash points for a possible conflict with China, including Korea, the East China Sea, the South China Sea and Taiwan, but conventional war is not likely at this stage.
The armistice between North and South Korea has held for nearly 70 years. The pandemic has severely constrained North Korea’s economy and its testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles has ceased, for now. China has a stake in keeping Kim Jong-un’s regime in power in the North, but the prospects of reverting to a hot war have flowed and ebbed. Just south of Korea, in the East China Sea, China has intensified its military activities around the Japanese-claimed but uninhabited Senkaku Islands.
China appears to be wearing down Japan’s resolve to resist its claims over what it calls the Diaoyu Islands. The United States has assured Japan the islands fall under their mutual defence security guarantee. But a confrontation with China could test US backing and possibly set the stage for escalated confrontation elsewhere.
China expands its economic reach into the United States’ backyard
While China’s presence in the region has grown substantially in the past decade, it is unlikely that China will replace the United States as the dominant political, economic and military power in Latin America for the foreseeable future.
East Asian economies resist decoupling
Quantifying the effect of supply chain decoupling is difficult. Trade controls, particularly export controls over high-tech products, became a major policy tool for decoupling in the United States and for some US allies, including Japan.
Media on global trade frequently puts forward the narrative that the US–China confrontation will divide the world in two. But East Asian developing economies have a different view of supply chain decoupling since US–China merchandise exports and imports hit a record high in 2022 and East Asian production networks continue to move actively.(more…)
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