China and the United States could be on the brink of open conflict in the Indo-Pacific as tensions between the two nations continue to grow. Washington has been at loggerheads with Beijing over its increasingly hostile behaviour towards both the South China Sea and Taiwan. And the shooting down of a Chinese surveillance balloon on February 4 has only exacerbated tensions gripping the two nations, fuelling concerns of a potential war.
Geopolitical analyst Irina Tsukerman told Express.co.uk the growing divide between the two nations could set the stage for a potential military escalation in the South China Sea.
Tsukerman said: “China is not particularly concerned about friendly gestures at the moment because where it matters – in the South China Sea- the preparations on both sides are gearing up towards an escalation of military preparation.
“The US is increasing its military presence, and China increasingly brazenly threatens various countries, including Taiwan and Japan.
“The stage is being openly set for a potential war, or at the very least, a “Cold War”, and the incident only enhances that perception.”
China has long been at loggerheads with the Philippines and Vietnam as well as other regional players in the Indo-Pacific over the sovereignty of the South China Sea.
They have also become increasingly hostile towards Taiwan, sparking concerns Xi Jinping might launch an invasion to forcefully reunite the island with mainland China.
The national security lawyer added that China’s openness to providing Russia with weapons to continue fighting in Ukraine is showing Beijing is no longer overly concerned about a US response.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken last weekend said new intelligence showed China is considering giving “lethal support” to Moscow in the shape of tech and weaponry.
Tsukerman said the response to the Chinese spying balloon earlier this month had been seen as a sign of weakness for the United States and spurred Beijing into pushing forward with its hostile conduct.
She continued: “China’s readiness to give weapons to Russia should come as no surprise – the two countries have been growing closer on a variety of fronts, and China has already been supporting the war in Ukraine with technology.
“On the other hand, it shows that China is no longer concerned about the imposition of US sanctions which it had tried to avoid in the early stages of the war by withdrawing or limiting its investments in Russia.
“The reasons for that include overall perception of the weakness from the White House, the strengthening alliance with Russia and other countries, the fact that most non-Western countries have not joined anti-Russian sanctions, and the difficulty of enforcement of sanctions against two countries simultaneously, especially given how significantly China’s economy is intertwined with the US and Europe and the inherent difficulties of decoupling by the dependent economies which have moved their supply chains abroad.”
She added: “China also has other vehicles of pressure on its opponents; aside from controlling supply chains, it has also monopolized rare earth minerals necessary for various technology production, including and especially lithium needed for electric vehicles, a particular concern of the current administration due to their prioritization of climate change issues.”