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China has UPPER HAND if war breaks out with USA – ‘Extremely challenging’ for US military

South China Sea: Expert predicts no conflict for five years

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Neither side has the appetite for all-out war but experts fear their intense strategic competition in which both conduct carefully calculated tests of the other’s resolve could spill over into violent confrontation. And US military expert Lyle Goldstein warned there was a solid chance the US could lose the first fight with the People’s Liberation Army in the event of a full-on conflict.

It is very plausible to say there is no guarantee of victory in the first phases

Lyle Goldstein

Prof Goldstein from the Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute in Newport, Rhode Island, told Newsweek: “It is very plausible to say there is no guarantee of victory in the first phases.”

He said scenarios for such a confrontation varied substantially but warned all “are extremely challenging” for US forces.

He said: “I think China now has adequate forces, including air, missile, electronic warfare, spec ops, naval, undersea and nuclear to likely prevail in the first phase and perhaps in subsequent phases too.”

He said weaponry had a “quite important” role but said China would gain the upper hand because of its favourable geography, greater will and the willingness to strike first.”

Beijing and Washington remain at loggerheads over vast areas of maritime territory and contested islands the South and East China with the US accusing China of trying to militarise the region to gain dominance over its neighbours.

The US military presence in the troubled waters has steadily increased in recent years and looks unlikely to scaled back under Joe Biden’s new White House administration.

A Beijing-based maritime specialist claims the frequent appearances of US military assets in the South China Sea are signs of the Biden administration’s “insecurities” and signal its intention to stop the Chinese military from making any “big moves”.

Writing in the Chinese journal World Affairs, Peking University professor Hu Bo warned the Chinese military it may soon routinely face two US Navy aircraft carrier strike groups on its doorstep.

Prof Hu said: “The United States has adjusted the deployment patterns of its aircraft carriers because it wants to intensify combat exercises directed at China in the South China Sea and the surrounding areas.

“It plans to have the capability of winning a conflict in an extreme contingency.”

He said recent US military movements in the area were “likely linked to the insecurities of the new administration”.

He said: “American aircraft carriers entering the South China Sea no longer make headlines.

“It’s not that American carriers aren’t allowed in the South China Sea.

“China opposes the escalating show of force and the patent targeting of China.”

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Last month US warships sailed through the South China Sea just days after Beijing issued a stern warning to Washington.

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group conducted a joint naval exercise close to Chinese-controlled islands.

Washington said the vessels “conducted a multitude of exercises aimed at increasing interoperability between assets as well as command and control capabilities”.

The mission was the first dual-carrier operation to take place in the South China Sea since last July.

US navy chiefs said the vessels were conducting a “freedom of navigation operation” in order to maintain peace in the region.

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