WW3 fears as ‘irresponsible’ China to spark panic across the globe

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister warns what could happen if China is not stopped

China’s “aggressive and irresponsible” actions over the South China Sea and Taiwan, mean it is “only a matter of time” before a major incident erupts, sparking panic across the globe.

That’s according to Dr Bec Strating, director of La Trobe Asia and an associate professor of Politics and International Relations at La Trobe University, Melbourne.

Beijing has watched on as Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos Jr and US counterpart Joe Biden have drawn their nations closer together in the face of what it sees as aggression and harassment from China.

Washington has long been an ally of Manila and the two leaders met in the Oval Office this week as part of Mr Marcos Jr’s four-day trip to the US.

Such is the rejuvenation in Manila-Washington ties the US said any attack on the Philippines’ security forces or public vessels would “invoke its mutual defence commitments”.

The renewed backing came after the US declared China had been employing “aggressive tactics” through its coastguard, including in the South China Sea.

And for Dr Strating the waterways of East Asia have become “increasingly saturated with naval and non-naval vessels” and this “raises concerns about the potential for unplanned encounters and maritime incidents that may escalate into conflict”.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “US officials recently warned that China’s aggressive and irresponsible actions in the SCS meant that it was only a matter of time before there is a major incident or accident.

“These actions from Beijing do raise serious concerns about the maintenance of ‘good order at sea’ – the safe, stable and predictable use of the seas and oceans.”

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The latest batch of tension brewing in the South China Sea, known globally as the world’s most lucrative waters, has left many waiting for conflict.

US commanders have highlighted China’s ongoing feud with Taiwan – over which it claims sovereignty despite Taipei’s declaration of independence – as another sign that war is brewing in the region.

But Dr Strating isn’t convinced.

She said: “While the maritime environment seems to be becoming more hazardous, at the same time we shouldn’t overstate the risk of great power conflict in the South China Sea.”

Dr Starting added: “China’s ‘grey zone’ tactics suggest that it wants to continue to advance and assert its maritime interests while at the same time avoid provoking the US into conflict.

“I think there are still question marks over US future intentions – even though it has made commitments to the Philippines, it is not a claimant state in either the sovereignty or maritime disputes so it is not clear that its interests in the South China Sea are considered ‘vital’ enough to risk going to war with China.”

Other Asian nations, such as Japan and South Korea, have also stood up against China’s aggression in recent weeks, but not every country in the region has matched their endeavours.

Drew Thompson, a visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew school of public policy, added: “The Code of Conduct discussions have stalled, and Asean is not coming together to confront the threat to one of its members’ sovereignty, so countries like the Philippines will rely on the US, and to a lesser extent Japan, to build up their deterrence capabilities.”

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