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Is War with China Now Inevitable?

China is acting like it wants a war. It probably doesn’t, but it doesn’t want the United States to know that. China’s communist leaders know they must keep growing the economy and improving the lives of their citizens, or risk revolution and the loss of power. They also know that they are on a clock: Within the next ten years, China’s recently amended one-child policy will invert the country’s economy, forcing that one child to pay the medical and retirement costs of his two parents and four grandparents. Under these circumstances, the state will need to begin allocating additional resources toward the care of its citizens and away from its burgeoning national-security apparatus. China has to lock down its sphere of influence soon, becoming great before becoming old. It’s time for Chinese leaders to go big or go home, and they’re slowly growing desperate.

Is War with China Now Inevitable?

 

 

China’s Coming Revolution | The National Interest

The Chinese are anxious.

The fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution has spurred concern that China is heading into another decade of chaos and madness or perhaps a period leading to regime failure.

China can fall apart not because Xi will organize the masses against his opponents—Mao’s sin that started the Cultural Revolution—but because the elite looks like it is fracturing on its own and will be unable to deal with, among other things, systemic economic problems.

The tumbling economy constitutes an emergency because the Communist Party’s legitimacy, for more than three decades, has been primarily based on the continual delivery of prosperity. Now, most Chinese know nothing but a continually improving life and have, as a result, become demanding.

China’s Coming Revolution | The National Interest

Victor Davis Hanson: The next few months may prove the most dangerous since World War II

Last week, Russian officials warned the Obama administration about the installation of a new anti-ballistic missile system in Romania and talked of a possible nuclear confrontation that would reduce the host country to “smoking ruins” and “neutralize” any American-sponsored missile system.

Such apocalyptic rhetoric follows months of Russian bullying of nearby neutral Sweden, harassment of U.S. ships and planes, warnings to NATO nations in Europe, and constant threats to the Baltic states and former Soviet republics.

China just warned the United States to keep its ships and planes away from its new artificial island and military base in the Spratly archipelago — plopped down in the middle of the South China Sea to control international sea lanes.

Iranian leaders routinely threaten to close down the key Strait of Hormuz. …

All the saber-rattling of 2016 is beginning to sound a lot like the boasts and bullying of Fascist Italy, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany of the 1930s.

Given those uncertainties, it may seem wise in the waning months of 2016 for aggressors to go for broke against the predictable Obama administration before the game is declared over in 2017.

• Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Lack of U.S. commitment increases danger – Washington Times

From a timing perspective, the risk of nuclear attack is heightened through the spring 2017. That doesn’t leave the new president much time to change things, and it provides a window for the Russians outside of winter. At this point we still need an adequate excuse (the trigger) for nuclear attack. We haven’t seen that yet.

If we were to see some kind of trigger today, I believe we would not see nuclear war in the spring of 2016. There would still be a delay to the spring of 2017. Both Russia and China will need time to prepare adequately for nuclear war.

There is always the risk that an event escalates wildly out of control ending with a nuclear war. I view this type of nuclear war as less likely than a planned nuclear war. However, that risk will always exist.

Former NATO Boss Warns: Russian nuclear war ‘in a year’ [possible]

A former NATO boss has warned Europe could be locked in nuclear war with Russia “within a year” triggered by a Russian incursion into Baltic States; Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

The chilling warning comes from General Sir Richard Shirreff, who served as NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander.

He said an attack would trigger article five of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) which deemed aggression against one member an attack on all.

“I have this awful vision of the Baltic States being seized, NATO unable to respond, Putin then blackmails using nuclear weapons what is called chillingly ‘nuclear de-escalation’ and NATO is unable to do anything about it,” the retired general said.

Former NATO leader boss predicts nuclear war with Russia unless NATO steps up security in Baltic nations

This is how the next financial crisis will spread around the world economy | Voices | The Independent

A new economic crisis, which I believe we are on the brink of experiencing, will have similarities, and differences, to 2008. The problem of crowded trades – where market participants all have the same basic positions and strategies, and identical risk models – will be familiar.

To recapitalise banks, regulators have approved risky hybrid securities, such as contingent capital and bail-in bonds. In the event of a systemic crisis, losses will be transmitted to insurance companies, pension funds and private investors; bailing them out may be politically necessary or expedient.

The combination of size, the nature of the underlying assets and the redemption feature may prove especially toxic. It is simply not possible to transform highly illiquid instruments, using financial engineering into liquid equivalents. This lack of liquidity is not reflected in pricing, with the premium for liquidity risk in most segments having fallen to 2007 levels of below.

Financial market shocks flow through into the real economy, affecting the supply of credit, growth, investment and employment. In turn, this feeds back into further sovereign and financial sector weakness.

The exact sequence of events is unpredictable because of the complexity of transmission pathways. But once these feedback loops start, they are very difficult to control.

This is how the next financial crisis will spread around the world economy | Voices | The Independent

A War of Epic Proportion is Brewing in the South China Sea

“… a major conflagration of epic proportions that may involve some of the world’s most powerful sovereign powers, including the United States, China, Japan, and even Russia, is brewing in earnest in the South China Sea.”

While armed conflicts still rage in Syria, Iraq, and other troubled spots of the world, a major conflagration of epic proportions that may involve some of the world’s most powerful sovereign powers, including the United States, China, Japan, and even Russia, is brewing in earnest in the South China Sea. At the center of this conflict is China’s extravagant maritime and territorial claims for almost the entire South China Sea, riling most countries in the region, upsetting key stakeholders along the world’s busiest commercial shipping lanes, and challenging key international maritime laws and interpretative frames of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Yet, China’s actions of late in the South China Sea should not be viewed as simply a reflection of the normal rise and fall of nations animated by proverbial fears and self-interest. They follow an inexorable logic of Chinese history, and are deeply rooted in China’s long-standing strategic culture, the key elements of which are as follows:

Understanding China’s Strategic Culture Through Its South China Sea Gambit | Hoover Institution

Navy Faces Deployment Crisis as Aging Ships get Sidelined

The U.S. Navy is suffering from an inability to deploy ships to key international conflict zones due to rising maintenance issues on an aging fleet, that is increasingly being sidelined for lengthy repairs, according to military experts and a new government investigation.

Heavy demand on the Navy’s fleet during the past decade has compromised the operational conditions of many ships, forcing military leaders to sideline these vessels for lengthy repairs that experts say will severely limit the Navy’s ability to respond to emerging threats in the Persian Gulf and Asia-Pacific regions.

Navy Faces Deployment Crisis as Aging Ships get Sidelined

Beijing is setting the stage for war in the South China Sea — Quartz

All any nation needs to go to war is a good provocation, and China is no exception. With its sweeping territorial claims, island-building, militarization, patriotic fervor, and prickly rhetoric, Beijing is setting itself up to be repeatedly provoked in the South China Sea. It might even be counting on it.

In other words, Beijing is pressing its outrageous claims in the South China, and will take any opposition as a reason to press them even harder.

One US commander is having none of it. Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., in charge of military operations in the Asia-Pacific region, says China is “clearly militarizing” (paywall) in the sea. “You’d have to believe in a flat earth to think otherwise,” he said in one appearance before Congress.

Beijing is setting the stage for war in the South China Sea — Quartz

China’s Economy Is Past the Point of No Return | The National Interest

The economy is essentially moribund as there is not much that can stop the ongoing slide. A contraction is certain, and a severe adjustment downward—in common parlance, a crash—looks likely.

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The first-quarter 6.7 percent was too good to be true, however. And there are two reasons why we should be particularly alarmed.

First, China’s statisticians appear to be just making the numbers up. For the first time since 2010, when it began providing quarter-on-quarter data, NBS did not release a quarter-on-quarter figure alongside the year-on-year one. And when NBS got around to releasing the quarter-on-quarter number, it did not match the year-on-year figure it had previously reported.

NBS’s 1.1 percent quarter-on-quarter figure for Q1, when annualized, produces only 4.5 percent growth for the year. That’s a long distance from the 6.7 percent year-on-year growth that NBS reported for the quarter.

Second, the central government simply turned on the money taps, flooding the economy with “gobs of new debt,” as the Wall Street Journal labeled the deluge.

China’s Economy Is Past the Point of No Return | The National Interest

Japan and South Korea May Soon Go Nuclear – WSJ

On Friday North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un praised his country’s recent hydrogen bomb test and satellite launch as “unprecedented” achievements that will “bring the final victory of the revolution.” Such rhetoric is nothing new, but North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program and a growing sense that security arrangements with the U.S. aren’t sufficient has eroded the Japanese taboo against nuclear weapons. On April 1, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet announced that Japan’s constitution did not ban his country from having or using nuclear arms.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s ruling-party leaders have urged President Park Geun-hye to stockpile “peaceful” plutonium as a military hedge against its neighbors. A Feb. 19 article in Seoul’s leading conservative daily, the Chosun Ilbo, went so far as to detail how South Korea could use its existing civilian nuclear facilities to build a bomb in 18 months.

Japan and South Korea May Soon Go Nuclear – WSJ