A top Republican who sits on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation has a severe warning about the future of U.S.-Chinese relations stating war could start in a short period of time.
According to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), armed conflict between the United States and China is imminent.
"I would predict there will be a clash within the next three to six months," Yoho told the Washington Examiner.
Relations with China have begun to deteriorate in recent years. Those ties have rapidly diminished due to President Donald Trump's trade war with Beijing as well as the recent pandemic. If that's not enough, FBI Director Christopher Wray revealed last week, that China has stepped up its espionage efforts against the U.S., forcing the FBI to open a new China-related counterintelligence investigation every 10 hours.
The FBI has also previously discussed several suspicious encounters where Chinese nationals were trying to smuggle viruses out of the U.S, Yahoo News reported.
According to one document, an unknown Chinese man was caught transporting biological vials of MERS and SARS labeled “antibodies” after being stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Detroit Metro airport.
This doesn’t include the case in January, where the head of Harvard University’s chemistry department, Charles Lieber, was federally charged with failing to disclose funding from the Chinese government, after he hid his involvement in China’s “Thousand Talents Program,” along with Chinese nationals.
The FBI’s report also specifically uses the words, “biosecurity risk” when describing China, which is typically used to refer to the intentional misuse of pathogens, such as for bioterrorism and biosafety, which covers accidental release according to the World Health Organization.
Several national security experts have said China is waging a "cold war" against the U.S., however, Yoho thinks a pending attack is coming and it will be anything but "cold."
The Florida Republican predicted that armed conflict will be triggered by a Chinese naval attack against the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which often commands a strong presence in the South China Sea.
"Knowing China, I think what they would do is ram one of our ships and say it was a mistake," Yoho told the Examiner.
"To sink a carrier would be a huge mistake, to attack any of our ships would be a huge mistake, but I think they're willing to risk that to test the waters," he explained. "And unfortunately, people will die. It would just be a mistake if they did that, for them."
Last year, Senior Chinese military official Dai Xu (戴旭), threatened U.S. Navy vessels in the South China Sea, recommending that China should attack the ships. This was after the U.S. sent a Navy destroyer the USS McCampbell into the contested Chinese waters, near the disputed islands in the South China Sea during ongoing trade talks in what China called a “provocation,” Reuters reported.
Xu recommended aggressive action against the U.S. if it “breaks into Chinese waters again” stating the following: “If the U.S. warships break into Chinese waters again, I suggest that two warships should be sent: one to stop it, and another one to ram it… In our territorial waters, we won’t allow US warships to create disturbance,” Taiwan News reported.
Over the past few weeks, several events have elevated the U.S. geopolitical tension with China, which since the Obama administration has been in turmoil after failed diplomatic discussions. It all started in 2012 when China and the Philippines engaged in a lengthy maritime feud which resulted in rejections of the verdict by China in 2016, increasing the chances of potential conflict in the region.
In 2016, an arbitration court ruled that China had(s) no historic title over the waters of the South China Sea and that it in doing so breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights with its actions.
China reacted by boycotting the proceedings, rejecting them and stating that the ruling was “ill-founded.”
One year later in 2017, China announced the creation of two Chinese-controlled international maritime courts that would be used to provide China’s interpretation of maritime law, Epoch Times reported.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte responded by stating that the man-made islands aren’t pointed at them.
“It’s not intended for us. The contending ideological powers of the world or the geopolitics has greatly changed. It’s really intended against those who the Chinese think would destroy them and that is America,” Duterte noted. “We did nothing.”
China insists that it has “historic rights” over the region which the countries dispute.
For centuries various countries have fought over the territory in the South China Sea – two specific island chains known as Paracels and the Spratlys – and fought over areas alongside the sandbanks and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal (known as Huangyan Island in China). These waters are a main import and export point that allows the passing of five trillions of dollars worth of global trade flow annually through the waters, according to Forbes.
“It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country,” former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei all have laid competing claims to the area.
Beijing states its right to the area goes back centuries to when the Paracel and Spratly island chains were regarded as integral parts of the Chinese nation. In 1947 the Communist nation issued a map detailing its claims.
However, in the past few years, China has begun building man-made islands that many countries and U.S. officials have disputed as being military bases.
It's also worth mentioning that in 2018, one single day after signing the economic tariffs and China retaliating, the U.S. sent the USS Mustin destroyer within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese-claimed islands, which China warned off, Asia Times reported.
In November of last year, the U.S. also quietly sent two naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait four days after the Taiwanese elections, with little coverage from the press, Taiwan News reported.
Right now it’s just the potential for a trade war, but things could escalate well past economic sanctions; and Beijing’s state media has previously warned any attempt to prevent China accessing its interests in the region of the South China Sea could risk sparking a “large-scale war.”
Last week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said U.S. policy on China is based on "ill-informed strategic miscalculation" and "is fraught with emotions and whims and McCarthyist bigotry." The foreign ministry also said that Washington's belief that China is a threat "may turn into self-fulfilling prophecies at the end of the day."
Last year, China's President Xi Jinping ordered the Chinese armed forces People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to enhance their combat readiness to safeguard national sovereignty, security, and development interests after the U.S. had issued a travel warning to China stating Americans were at risk to arbitrary and indefinite detention.
“The world is facing a period of major changes never seen in a century, and China is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development,” Xi said, to the Central Military Commission (CMC) warning that various risks and challenges were on the rise. “The entire armed forces should have a correct understanding of China’s security and development trends, enhance their awareness of danger, crisis and war, and make solid efforts on combat preparations in order to accomplish the tasks assigned by the Party and the people,” Xi added according to a press release.
This followed the test of China’s dubbed Mother Of All Bombs, (MOAB) only a day prior, according to the official Xinhua news agency which described the bomb as the “Chinese version of the ‘Mother of all Bombs,'” Dawn reported.
According to Yoho, Beijing is talking tough only because the U.S. is standing up to the communist country.
"The United States is willing to stand up to them, and that may force China's hand," Yoho told the Examiner. "That'll be something that they will lose, and they will regret, but we can't be intimidated because that might happen. I think the real threat is, if we don't do anything, we know that it'll happen. And then, that'll give more strength to China to keep doing what they're doing. So, you know, let's just hope that diplomacy works and China backs off."