In the US media, as also in the global press, leading headlines in the past few days have been “A US-China clash is not unthinkable,” “The US could stumble into a nuclear war with China over Taiwan,” and “America would defend Taiwan against a Chinese assault.” On the other hand, the People’s Republic of China has not been far behind in spitting out war-like rhetoric. The headlines in the leading state-controlled media in China have been “Why US will lose a war with China over Taiwan island,” “U.S. is shutting door for talks, and not prepared for Consequence,” and “Upping tensions over Taiwan shows US is an irresponsible power.” So, why has Taiwan become an explosive flashpoint for a US-China war? Arguably, Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” Trump’s “all-out anti-China policies,” and the current US administration’s “New Cold War against China,” spearheaded by President Biden have all been driven by the historic decline of US hegemony. China, on its part, has not been shying away from a confrontationist US either. Not only has China steadily built up Chinese military bases in the SCS and has successfully tested both medium-range and intercontinental hypersonic missiles, but Beijing has also increased the frequency of flying sorties near the Taiwanese airspace. Moreover, China’s “stubborn” ignoring of external criticisms of clamping down on dissidents, putting over a million Uyghurs into “re-education camps,” and crushing peaceful democracy protests in Hong Kong – haven’t won Beijing, one additional supporter, abroad. Furthermore, China condemning the US attitude for its return to the “Cold War mindset” or the world’s appeal to coercive Biden and aggressive Xi Jinping is not going to help us avert the dangers of war. What we really need is to build a powerful world opinion to reduce the risk of a military conflict between the world’s largest and number two economies, both nuclear-armed.
Shyam Saran is a former Foreign Secretary of India and has served as Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Nuclear Affairs and Climate Change. After leaving government service in 2010, he headed the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a prestigious think tank focusing on economic issues (2011-2017) and was Chairman of the National Security Advisory Board under the National Security Council (2013-15). He is currently Life Trustee of India International Centre, Member of the Governing Council/Board of the Institute of Chinese Studies and Centre for Policy Research, a Trustee at the World Wildlife Fund (India) and Member of the Executive Council of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). He has recently published a book, How India Sees the World.
Joseph Gerson is Director of Programs for American Friends Service Committee Northeast Region and Director of AFSC's Peace and Economic Security Program. He has been active in peace and justice campaigning since the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. He has expertise in U.S. foreign and military policies, especially Asia-Pacific, Middle East, nuclear weapons & Disarmament, foreign military bases. Convener of the Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific. His publications include: Empire and the Bomb: How the US Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World; The Sun Never Sets....Confronting the Network for U.S. Foreign Military Bases; With Hiroshima Eyes: Atomic War, Nuclear Extortion and Moral Imagination; and The Deadly Connection: Nuclear War and U.S. Intervention. He is co-chair, the Committee for a Sane US-China Policy.
Da Wei is currently Professor in the Department of International Relations, Tsinghua University. He is also the Deputy Director of the Centre for International Strategy and Security (CISS) at Tsinghua. His research expertise covers China-US relations and US security & foreign policy. Prior to current positions, he used to be Assistant President of University of International Relations (2017-2020), director of the Institute of American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (2013-2017). He has written hundreds of policy papers for the Chinese government, and published dozens of academic papers in journals in China, the US and other countries.
Zhiqun Zhu PhD, is Professor of Political Science and International Relations and Chair of the Department of International Relations at Bucknell University, USA. He was Bucknell’s inaugural Director of the China Institute (2013–2017) and MacArthur Chair in East Asian politics (2008–2014). He previously taught at University of Bridgeport, Hamilton College, University of South Carolina, and Shanghai International Studies University. In the early 1990s, he was Senior Assistant to Consul for Press and Cultural Affairs at the American Consulate General in Shanghai. Zhu is a member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations and is frequently quoted by international media on Chinese and East Asian affairs.
Kanti Bajpai is the Wilmar Professor of Asian Studies, and Director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He was Professor in the Politics and International Relations of South Asia, Oxford University (2009-2010), and Headmaster, The Doon School, India (2003-2009). His areas of research are Indian foreign policy and national security, South Asia, Asian international and strategic thought, and international security. Most recently, he has published India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends (Juggernaut, 2021), The Routledge Handbook of China-India Relations (2020, with Manjari Chatterjee Miller and Selina Ho), and India, the West, and International Order (2019), with Siddharth Mallavarapu). He is also finishing an edited volume on Realism and India’s Foreign Policy (Routledge India).
Hemant Adlakha is professor of Chinese, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He is also Vice Chairperson and Honorary Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS), Delhi.
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