How Trump Could Blunder Into War with China. China may bully its neighbors, but turning foreign territorial disputes into a superpower conflict between nuclear-armed rivals would be a huge mistake. By Conn Hallinan,
In his Sept. 13 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson made an extraordinary comment concerning China’s activities in the hotly disputed South China Sea.
The United States, he said, must “send a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops,” adding tha
t Beijing’s “access to the those islands is not going to be allowed.”
Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, repeated the threat on Sept. 24.
Sometimes it’s hard to sift the real from the magical in the Trump administration, and bombast appears to be the default strategy of the day. But people should be clear about what would happen if the U.S. actually tries to blockade China from supplying its forces constructing airfields and radar facilities on the Spratly and Paracel islands.
It would be an act of war.
While Beijing’s Foreign Ministry initially reacted cautiously to the comment, Chinese newspapers have been far less diplomatic. The nationalist Global Times warned of a “large-scale war” if the U.S. followed through on its threat, and the China Daily cautioned that a blockade could lead to a “devastating confrontation between China and the U.S.”