With each passing week, the West keeps ramping up its war talk, military advancements, and military strategies that are trending toward warfare with China. The following are key events that are ramping up the conflict between East and West.
CHINESE ‘SPY’ BALLOON: POP GOES THE WEASEL
American F-22 fighters successfully shot down a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon off the South Carolina coast last weekend that the U.S. said was being used by Beijing to “surveil strategic sites.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called the incursion an “unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”
The Defense Department said it began tracking the balloon, which was carrying a payload the size of three buses, over the Aleutian Islands on 28 January.
The balloon floated over Alaska, Canada, and then re-entered U.S. airspace over Idaho, a statement read. The U.S. claimed it did not shoot down the balloon over land to prevent “undue risk” to civilians.
President Joe Biden said Saturday that he ordered the Pentagon to shoot the balloon down “as soon as possible” on Wednesday.
The balloon was eventually picked off by the Raptor which fired one AIM-9X Sidewinder missile that cost We the People of Slavelandia about $400,000. The statement said, “F-15 Eagles flying from Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, supported the F-22.”
“Long before the shoot down, U.S. officials took steps to protect against the balloon’s collection of sensitive information, mitigating its intelligence value to the Chinese,” the statement read.
China said the U.S. overreacted over a weather balloon.
“China strongly disapproves of and protests against the U.S. attack on a civilian unmanned airship by force,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday morning, according to the South China Morning Post.
“The U.S.’s use of force is a clear overreaction and a serious violation of international practice,” the ministry said, before noting that Beijing reserves the right to make “further responses that are necessary.”
Politicians from the U.S. celebrated the downing of the balloon.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., could barely contain his joy. He thanked the “men and women of the United States military who were responsible for completing the mission to shoot down the Chinese surveillance balloon.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called for a Senate hearing later this month. He credited the Biden administration for being “calm, calculating, and effective.” Schumer said retrieving the balloon will allow the U.S. to “learn a great deal about China’s capabilities and what they’re up to.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and some Republicans were critical of the Biden administration and said the balloon should have been taken out before crossing the U.S.
“Damage to U.S. national security and American sovereignty was already done,” she said.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee said, “I can assure you that if we fly a balloon over China, they’re going to shoot it down, and probably a lot sooner than we did.”
TRENDPOST: The incident sparked U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to postpone his upcoming trip to China and, once again, brought politicians from both sides of the aisle together in their shared hatred for China. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted that China’s “brazen disregard for U.S. sovereignty is a destabilizing action that must be addressed, and President Biden cannot be silent.” (It is worth noting that he has plans to visit Taiwan at some point, keeping up with the U.S. tradition of destabilizing the Pacific.)
China called the “spy balloon” nothing more than a weather balloon that was thrown off course by westerly winds.
“China regrets that the airship strayed into the United States due to force majeure,” the Foreign Ministry said.
It is worth noting that the U.S. seems to be taking on the role of a paranoid superpower. Recall last year when an F-35 crashed into the South China Sea and the U.S. conducted a massive recovery effort to prevent Beijing from stealing Washington’s fifth-generation fighter information. Beijing yawned in response and said it has no interest in recovering the jet.
TRENDPOST: Paul Bedard, a columnist for the Washington Examiner, wrote that the decision by China to float the balloon over the U.S. could be a potential dry run for a nuclear EMP attack.
“Spy balloons, used by Japan to drop bombs during World War II, are now far more sophisticated, can fly at up to 200,000 feet, evade detection, and can carry a small nuclear bomb that, if exploded in the atmosphere, would shut down the grid and wipe out electronics in a many-state-wide area,” he wrote.
He continued, “EMP experts have warned that China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran have programs to hit the U.S. grid with electromagnetic pulse weapons that would cut the cord for a year or longer. A congressional report has warned that a blackout that long could result in millions of deaths.”
The Trends Journal has reported extensively that the Biden administration has identified China as the biggest challenger for the U.S. But despite the amount of military spending in the U.S., Beijing has managed some high-profile tests that have embarrassed the Pentagon. (See “DUH! PENTAGON SURPRISED BY CHINA’S TEST OF HYPERSONIC MISSILE,” 2 Nov 2021.)
Mark A. Milley, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that China’s successful test of a hypersonic missile in 2021 came close to being a “Sputnik moment”—referring to Russia’s launch of the first artificial satellite that surprised the world over 60 years ago.
The news of the hypersonic missile launches dropped shortly after the Pentagon’s former software chief told the Financial Times that Beijing has already won the artificial intelligence race with the U.S. and will likely further its lead in other technologies in the future.
“We have no competing fighting chance against China in 15 to 20 years,” Nicholas Chaillan told the paper. “Right now, it’s already a done deal; it’s already over in my opinion. Whether it takes war or not is kind of anecdotal.”
READY TO FIGHT CHINA? THINK AGAIN. U.S. NAVY BARELY STAYS AFLOAT
A key U.S. watchdog raised the alarm last week that the U.S. Navy is suffering from maintenance issues that could leave the fleet vulnerable to China.
The Government Accountability Office reported that the operating costs for the U.S.’s aging fleet ballooned by about $2.5 billion in 10 years—all while these ships log in fewer steaming hours. These issues include breakdowns, the “cannibalization of parts” by moving them from ship to ship, and maintenance delays.
The GAO studied these ships from 2011 to 2021 and cited “worsening sustainment challenges.”
“Over time this situation has resulted in worsening ship conditions and increased costs to repair and sustain ships. GAO has made dozens of recommendations, which the Navy has generally concurred with, to improve the Navy’s sustainment of its ships. While taking actions, the Navy has not fully implemented many of GAO’s recommendations,” the statement read.
The statement said the Pentagon spends tens of billions from its budget each year on maintenance. It cost about $17 billion in 2020 to operate and sustain the 151 Navy ships. The GAO did not release all of its findings because the Navy said some of the information was sensitive. The report admitted that the agency’s “past work has shown that the Navy has faced significant readiness challenges over the last decade.”
The health of the U.S. Navy is considered strategically important for the U.S. as tensions between Washington and Beijing remain high over Taiwan. The two countries’ navies would play an important role in any conflict, according to analysts. The U.S. submarine fleet would be tasked with neutralizing China’s fleet and, according to some, bring the war to a swift end but at a massive cost to the U.S. fleet.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. ran 24 war games considering a Chinese invasion, but even under the best scenario, found that the U.S. would lose up to a quarter of its ships and thousands of sailors.
China’s Navy has been making its own gains in recent years and last week announced that it successfully launched its YJ-21 anti-ship hypersonic missile, which came shortly after U.S. Four-Star General Mike Minihan warned his troops that his “gut” tells him Washington will likely fight China in 2025.
The missile reportedly hit its target at a speed of 3,400 meters per second after traveling at a speed of Mach 6 during its entire trajectory and then at Mach 10 at its terminal velocity, the Eurasian Times reported.
“Any anti-missile weapon system cannot intercept such a terminal speed at this stage. Even if it is dropped directly at this terrifying speed [hitting the target] without an explosion, it will cause a fatal strike to the enemy ship,” an article that appeared on Weibo said.
TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has reported extensively on the tense relationship between Washington and Beijing over the Taiwan issue. And we have forecast that, should China invade Taiwan, no one will stop them, especially America, which lost every war it started since WWII. (See “TAIWAN VS. CHINA: UKRAINE WAR SETS THE STAGE” 5 Apr 2022, “PRODUCING NEW ENEMIES FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER” 9 Aug 2022, and “WHAT CELENTE HAS SAID IS NOW PROOF: POLL SHOWS MOST AMERICANS CAN’T FIND UKRAINE OR TAIWAN ON A MAP” 16 Aug 2022.)
We’ve also noted that the U.S.’s State Department is feckless and has no diplomatic solutions. Just last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled plans to visit China in response to the mystery balloon that materialized over the U.S.
He said the incident “created the conditions that undermine the purpose of the trip.”
The trip was never going to be comfortable because Washington wants to keep ramping up tensions with China and has signed military deals with Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines to make sure China cannot extend its reach.
“In my call today with Director Wang Yi, I made clear that the presence of this surveillance balloon in U.S. airspace is a clear violation of U.S. sovereignty and international law, that it’s an irresponsible act, and that the (People’s Republic of China) decision to take this action on the eve of my planned visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have,” Blinken said.
How many times does the U.S. sail warships in the Taiwan Straits with no other purpose than to entice Beijing?
The U.S. will continue to run into problems because it would rather have a warring unipolar world than a peaceful multipolar world that will happen with or without Washington’s approval.
TREND FORECAST: We suggest the meeting that Mr. Blinken backed out of with China was also to prod China to pull away from its support from Russia, a request that Beijing would have denied. We forecast that Washington will continue to impose sanctions and restrictions on Chinese products, companies, and the government.
RETIRED NATO COMMANDER WINS CZECH’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, WASTES NO TIME TO WARN EU ABOUT THE DANGERS OF CHINA
Petr Pavel, the Czech Republic’s president-elect who has served as a NATO commander, wasted no time to beat the alliance’s war drums vis-à-vis China and said it is time Beijing is seen as the threat that it is.
“This is what we have to be very clear about: China and its regime is not a friendly country at this moment, it is not compatible with western democracies in their strategic goals and principles,” he told the Financial Times in an interview. “This is a simple fact that we have to recognize.”
To further drive his anti-Chinese message, he became the EU’s first elected state leader to have a call with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, the paper noted. He said Prague has much to benefit from a relationship with Taipei and he has no intention of behaving like an “ostrich to hide this reality.”
Mao Ning, a spokeswoman from the Chinese foreign ministry, said at a press conference that the call was unacceptable to Beijing.
“We urge the Czech Republic to take immediate and effective measures to correct the wrongdoing, undo the negative impact of this incident, and credibly abide by the ‘one-China principle,'” she said.
The AFP noted that Mao said his remarks “trampled on China’s red line” and disregarded efforts from Beijing to avoid the call.
Wang Lutong, the head of Europe at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, tweeted that he was “shocked” by the 15-minute call that broke from the norms. Official exchanges between EU officials and Taiwan are limited to civil servant or vice-ministerial levels, not heads of state, Politico reported. The reasoning is that Beijing wants other countries to approach Taiwan as though the island was a part of China.
The report noted the recent brush-up between Lithuania and China that resulted in Beijing imposing trade restrictions on Vilnius, which has been an EU member state since 2021. China is the EU’s biggest trade partner. The EU criticized China’s reaction and said its bans on Lithuanian alcohol, beef, and dairy products were not justified, Barron’s reported.
TREND FORECAST: As the trend line moves forward, we forecast tensions between the United States and China, both economically and geopolitically, will ramp up in 2023. (See “BIDEN SAYS U.S. WILL FIGHT CHINA IF IT INVADES TAIWAN, BUT WHITE HOUSE FLACKS QUICKLY BACKTRACK” 24 May 2022, “WASHINGTON RAMPS UP WAR TENSIONS WITH CHINA: $10 BILLION IN U.S. MILITARY AID TO TAIWAN” 20 Dec 2022, and “U.S. AND AUSTRALIA RAMPING UP FIGHT WITH CHINA” 13 Dec 2022.)
Supported by the U.S., the EU will continue to work to isolate China in hopes to weaken the country, which will be a futile effort because it has so many willing partners in the BRICS countries.
Fu Cong, the Chinese ambassador to the EU, said in December that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hurt Beijing’s relationship with Brussels. Fu said one of his priorities in the new role was to “depoliticize” China’s relationship with the bloc.
NORTH KOREA BLAMES THE U.S. FOR PUSHING TENSIONS ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA TO AN ‘EXTREME RED LINE’
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry criticized the U.S. for unnecessarily stoking the tension on the Korean Peninsula and said the situation has reached an “extreme red line,” according to a report.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Pyongyang said Washington wants to turn the Peninsula into one big “war arsenal.” The country said it has no interest in scoring any diplomatic victories with the U.S. and would respond with “overwhelming nuclear force.”
“The military and political situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region has reached an extreme red line due to the reckless military confrontational maneuvers and hostile acts of the U.S. and its vassal forces,” the statement read.
The comments from North Korea came after U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s visit last week to Seoul, in what was seen as a major provocation.
Sergey Mardan, a Russian state TV presenter, credited North Korea for remaining “independent” in its approach to global affairs and called the nuclear threat effective.
“For them, independence is an absolute value for which they are prepared to do anything, including turning the whole world into dust,” Mardan said, according to Newsweek. “That’s to say, when Kim Jong-un said back when Trump was still president that if you move your aircraft carriers toward the coast of North Korea, we’ll…whack you with a nuclear bomb.”
The U.S. appears to have a willing partner in South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has moved closer to Washington and has floated the idea of Seoul obtaining its own nuclear weapon. The WSJ noted that last week, the U.S. and South Korea performed air drills that involved nuclear-capable bombers and stealth fighters.
The paper noted that these drills have been seen as provocative by North Korea which has threatened to respond with its own missile launch.
North Korea has backed up its threats, and in September 2022, updated its nuclear doctrine that states Pyongyang can use tactical nuclear weapons if a war ever breaks out and preemptive strike, which is its most aggressive nuclear doctrine in history.
“The DPRK will take the toughest reaction to any military attempt of the U.S. on the principle of ‘nuke for nuke’ and an all-out confrontation for an all-out confrontation!” the Foreign Ministry said. “If the U.S. continues to introduce strategic assets into the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding area, the DPRK will make clearer its deterring activities without fail according to their nature.”
TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has reported on Seoul’s new militaristic posturing. (See “SOUTH KOREA NEW GOVERNMENT= ESCALATION OF MILITARY TENSIONS.”)
The U.S.’s response to the Chinese balloon showed clear vulnerabilities when responding to threats. If there’s such indecision in firing on a balloon, how can Americans have confidence in their government to respond to a supersonic ballistic missile or two dozen? Instead of trying to increase the prospect of peace, the U.S. continues to try to divide and conquer in Asia, and leaves the world more unstable as a result.
U.S. MILITARY CHIEF VISITS SOUTH KOREA TO TALK NUKE WAR WITH CHINA
Lloyd Austin, the U.S. secretary of defense, visited South Korea last week to talk war with China and assure Seoul that Washington’s support is “ironclad,” before vowing to protect the country with the “full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including our conventional, nuclear, and missile defense capabilities.”
He spoke about the U.S.’s significant footprint already in place inside the country, which includes 28,500 uniformed personnel who “proudly work together every day with their ROK [South Korean] counterparts,” according to WSWS.org.
Ben McGrath, the article’s author, said the idea that Austin was there to talk about defense was nonsense and it was simply to make sure that President Yoon Suk-yeol is “working in lockstep with the U.S. in pursuit of the latter’s strategic goals in Northeast Asia, directed above all against China.”
TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has long noted that President Joe Biden has made it his administration’s top foreign policy priority to keep its foot on the neck of Beijing and prevent it from seizing regional hegemony.
The U.S. has been forming a NATO-like coalition in the Pacific that includes Japan, South Korea, and Australia as the main buffers. (See “CHINA WARNS JAPAN” 17 Jan 2023, “BIDEN RAMPS UP WAR WITH CHINA, AMERICA WILL NUKE TO PROTECT JAPAN” 17 Jan 2023, “$10 BILLION IN U.S. MILITARY AID TO TAIWAN” 20 Dec 2022, and “JAPAN DOUBLES UP MILITARY SPENDING, ENDS PACIFIST DEFENSE STRATEGY” (20 Dec 2022.)
Yoon has also talked tough against the North Korea threat and has threatened to shelve a 2018 agreement to avoid conflict on the border with North Korea. The relationship between Seoul and Pyongyang has worsened in recent years and one former Seoul official in the Moon Jae-in administration told WSWS, “We are now on the verge of military conflict with North Korea.”
Washington has acknowledged North Korea’s capabilities and, last November, sent nuclear-capable bombers to the peninsula over the threat.
“We deployed fifth-generation aircraft, F-22s and F-35s, we deployed a carrier strike group to visit the peninsula, you can look for more of that kind of activity going forward. But in addition to that, you can look to see deeper consultation between our two countries and that leadership,” Austin said.
Yoon has also expressed interest in joining The Quad, the military alliance formed by the U.S., Australia, and Japan, and said last month that North Korea’s recent aggression has led Seoul to consider either ordering or developing tactical nuclear weapons, which he said could happen quickly given the country’s “scientific and technological capabilities.” (See “SOUTH KOREA: NUKE US UP!” 17 Jan 2023.)
The New York Times reported at the time that South Korea has never mentioned publicly the idea of going nuclear since the U.S.’s decision to remove its nukes from the peninsula in 1991. He later appeared to walk back the comments and seemed to be more focused on partnership.
Austin seemed to hint at the nuclear capabilities when he said Washington will work with Seoul in its “extended deterrence.”
The WSWS report noted that Austin penned an op-ed for South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, titled, “The Alliance Stands Ready.”
The report read, “Austin stated the two sides ‘are expanding the scope and scale of our combined exercises.’ He added that the two sides will plan ‘visits to U.S. strategic [that is, nuclear] sites housing our most advanced capabilities to demonstrate the role these capabilities may play in crisis or conflict.’ Austin called the U.S.-South Korean alliance one of the most ‘interoperable, and adaptable alliances in history.’”
The report noted that Jen Stoltenberg, the NATO head, has spoken out about the importance of bringing willing Asian countries into the Alliance’s fold because he said events in Asia and the Indo-Pacific “matters for Europe and NATO, and vice versa.”
China’s Global Times reported that Stoltenberg recently visited Japan and told an audience that what happened in Ukraine today, “could be East Asia tomorrow.”
Mao Ning, a spokesperson from China’s Foreign Ministry, said China is not interested in war and wants to maintain world peace. She said Beijing does not engage in geopolitical competitions and has no intention to challenge or threaten any country.
“The peace, cooperation, stability, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region is attributable to the joint efforts of countries in the region,” Mao said, according to the paper. “The Asia-Pacific region is not a battlefield for geopolitical competition, and confrontation and the Cold War mentality are not welcome in the region.”
WASHINGTON RAMPS UP WAR WITH CHINA: FOUR MORE U.S. BASES IN PHILIPPINES
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin went to the Philippines last week to acknowledge a new agreement between militaries that gives America’s military four more bases in the country in Washington’s ongoing effort to surround China.
U.S. service members have already been in the country working alongside their Filipino counterparts. Manila has historically clashed with China over South China Sea claims and Washington is taking advantage of the country’s president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who is more willing to work with the U.S. than his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte—who suspended American access to these bases in an effort to inch closer to China.
The deal will allow U.S. forces to utilize four more bases in the archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. The Financial Times noted that, like other countries in the region that seek close ties with the U.S., the U.S. colony is trying to strike a balancing act to not outright provoke China to react. In this case, Manila did not announce what new bases the U.S. military can use.
Applauding the agreement, Austin said, “… it is a big deal, it is a really big deal. This is an opportunity to increase our effectiveness, to increase interoperability.”
The U.S. will invest in these bases about $82 million in infrastructure as part of the agreement. The Conversation noted that the U.S. announced a separate $100 million injection for the Filipino military in October.
The theory that the Defense Department is selling is that the Philippines could become a key battlefield in the event that China invaded Taiwan.
Austin said both the U.S. and the Philippines are “committed to strengthening our mutual capacities to resist armed attack.”
The Philippines’ most northern island is about 118 miles from Taiwan, The Conversation reported.
Mao Ning, China’s Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry Information said the move will “escalate tensions and endanger peace and stability in the region.”
TRENDPOST: The Trends Journal has long noted that President Joe Biden has made it clear that his top foreign policy priority in the White House will be to counter China. Indeed, a U.S. official told the FT that the agreement in the Philippines has been a “priority” for Biden’s team. (See “SPOTLIGHT CHINA: EAST VS. WEST,” “BIDEN RAMPS UP PRESSURE ON CHINA,” “U.S. LAUNCHES COLD WAR 2.0: CHINA LAMBASTS ‘COLD-WAR MENTALITY’” and “CHINA TASK FORCE: U.S. APPROACH TO BEIJING.”)
It is worth noting that Marcos also met with Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio in Tokyo to talk about their own military relationship. One of the topics included Japanese access to military bases in the country and increased joint training programs.
TREND FORECAST: We maintain our forecast that the U.S. will not confront China militarily. Should China aggressively confront Taiwan, the U.S. and its NATO allies’ words will speak louder than their actions.
As we have noted, being that the U.S. has not won a war since World War II (which it did in part with the assistance of Russia who first defeated Nazi Germany), the Pentagon is well aware that war with China would be catastrophic, considering the size and power of China’s military.
If war did break out between the two nations, considering the depth and range of 21st-century weaponry of each nation, it will not only be the war that ends all wars, it will also be the end of life on Earth.