At least I was a student in the 1990’s China has been preparing for war with the US. Back then I read an article by Colin Powell in a monthly magazine on international diplomacy. He related that war with the US is all the Chinese worry about at their military academies. I guess back then it made a little sense, as the US had not yet opened the fossil fuel floodgates.
This is all well and good, and you might get caught in a fear driven narrowing of your awareness and become paranoid. No doubt there is good reason and China is certainly not coy about stealing from any country (for example when it comes to fishing in foreign waters). But lets review the sense and sensibility of actual war with the US.
Ironically in the 80’s China was less dependent on foreign inputs than today, although it was considered underdeveloped. Its population lived happily in their rural areas. Then the US helped move production to China, reduced the cost of saudi oil for China, basically allowed it to grow into its modern form. Power wrote in 1990’s that China would have to sustain growth to remain internally stabile. Growth requires resources like oil, gas, coal. In short relevant for the below is that without the US China would not be in such a precarious position today, or maybe I overestimate the influence of the US.
Why go to war?
There aren’t many reasons to go to war really. Before you start killing your own friends and family, ruining/halting the economy, diverting resources to devices like bombs who’s only purpose is to destroy themselves and humans, there really has to be a serious reason or someone must have become seriously crazy.
I guess if some country started slaughtering chinese people then there would be good reason for it to take action. This used to be much more logical than today. In a country like China where the relationship with government is tennuous at best, the Chinese are trying hard to obey the rules and be disciplined and work hard. During the Covid outbreak you could hear pleas of people who where welded into their highrises (some of which caught fire) about how they where really trying but couldn’t stand it no more. Does the Chinese state care about its citizens? Frankly I doubt it. Not enough to go to war over.
2. Resource shortages
Does the world have vital resources China needs? That questio is relative to the level of ‘growth’ China wants to sustain. It needs coal, it has a relationship with Australia which provides it. The warmongers in the US want to cut into this relationship. With who would China go to war over its coal? Not with the US, that would mean mutual anihilation. Not with Australia it has no power.
China depends on grain imports, but mainly for its meat industry. It has had disruption of that in recent years. China would never be dependent on a country it can not raid for its staple food security. It has a good relationship with Russia, a major grain producer. It would not have to go to war with Russia to get it, it has already bought futures of russian gas in return for replacement of western imports (which may indirectly also have come from China)
3. Ideological differences
Ideological differences where the reason for distance between the US, the west and China for a long time. China has since been invaded by US banks, has been put on a path of economistic growth, which has meant a lot of idiotic projects and entire half finished cities and never inhabited highrises, just like in the rest of the fossil/credit corrupted world. Its no longer communism. Xi has let this happen or it may not be reported to him. As people are now monitored and punished for unique thoughts with financial house arrest it is unlikely China can develop an ideology and export it. Its not the mentality. China does seem to hate muslims and try to drive them out (Uygurs). It did the same with Falung Gong. Any source of mental strength other than the state is not appreciated. Will it go to war for that?
4. Global power dynamics
Here we’re moving into the part where its ego against ego, and also where its about containment of ability. It may be that the basic nature of humans is fight for what they need, but also for what they want. This can include the subjugation of Taiwan by China, which is an important source of semiconductors for the US, as well as a territory dominated by its banks, you could say ‘globalism’ is the rule over society by international banks driving Economism, also wrongly titled Capitalism.
The goal of Economism is to defend and expand the power of banks, which is done by their control over resources and the tokens they are traded in (money). Of course many people are ‘fighting’ for their lifestyle in this system, which ultimately means some people are ready to kill for it or get others to do it. It is not difficult to recruit anyone if you have money. Its also not difficult to get powerfull weapons or mainting a believable military. In short armies are big economistic business, and they have the means to stay in business.
War means only cashflow for weapons. That gradually turns more desperate until the war ends. This is hardly the life banks want, which is why they have been signalling Putin to stop the nonsense from the start.
5. Personal idiosyncracies
You can say that the war in Ukraine that is now pulling on Russia’s table cloth (and that of other parts of the world) was born out of the isolation of Putin, his general management approach which is very hands off, and his mind being marinated with images of old russia grandeur by a philosopher friend (Alexander Dugin).
Some say that Xi in China has scared the pants off of anyone that wants to go against him, so he, like Putin is in a personal bubble and may develop ideas that are as ‘unsound’. as Putin’s. In the US we have the quite moronic Neocons who have taken over foreign affairs (Blinken).
It is always madness that starts wars, whether it is based on caring for others, caring about survival or caring for some idea. All normal behavior is cast aside and the planning of murder on a massive scale commences, because whoever is the target has fallen of the moral chessboard.
It is often only when you eliminate the lunatic at the center that conflicts stop, because normal people need a reason to do things, it has to make some sense in other ways than being a means to prevent court martial or a road to higher social/economic status.
Even in Iran it is clear there’s a class of insane religious leaders that have indoctrinated enough young men to do their bidding. Hitler took a page out of that book too, he empowered young men to raid the homes of the intelligentia. What do young men want more than being able to vent their aggression? In Iran they are the fashion police, while the older guard takes care of the slow process of hanging and obcene torture in prison. Insanity. Not healty.
The most sane country in the weak alliance with no purpose of China/Russia/Iran/Belarus and possibly african states like Niger are Belarus (and Niger). Belarus can not be captured by Russia, it has not sacrificed its men in the war with Ukraine. It has tried to walk a fine line because apparently either Lukashenko cares about his people, sees no benefit in the chaos or war, or he is as eager to see Russia sink in internal conflict (as do the other former Soviet satellites). He seems to have Putin’s ear and be able to create this dasha fireplace atmosphere which allows him to prevent Putin from killing Prigozhin. Putin likes loyalty but right now there is no commanding anyone. Prigozhin and Lukashenko seem to have left the Ukraine battlefield predending to threaten Poland. They are smoking sigarets behind the barn.
If you took the situation seriously for a minute, so Belarus and Wagner invading Poland and NATO responding and a full scale thermonuclear war resulting you quickly discover that none of the parties except perhaps Putin would want that. Even a small nuclear war throws our planet in darkness for decades caused by dust blown into the stratosphere, darkness very few would survive. It really is suicide to trigger such a war. It always was, so it never was a problem. Donald Rhumsfeld who invented the cold war (“Russia has secret weapons! What weapons? They are secret!”) knew it, but it was good business for M&M enterprises. A nuclear world war can only happen by unfortunate accident. It would not even help with climate change and global warming, it would just be the final crescendo before humans went extinct.
To me the idea we will have to keep fighting for our resources seems nonsensical. We know so much about our planet from satellites and we can analyse possible futures and threats so wel, if we take the time to set up the systems, that we can probably predict exactly what the challenges and potentials are of each region. All the individual minds that distort this understanding at the moment will be gradually phased out, and we already have systems of minds (UN) that see sense where legacy minds (like Putin) fail to. NATO is a peace alliance, which is now bleeding Russia dry. If this succeeds it leaves only China and the US to contest resources. Are they going to? Why really? Is there anything in the USA the Chinese need?
I believe that if Russia is defeated there will be no more wars. What will happen is that China and the US/Europe come to agreements to help each other generate wealth and combat climate change (which will be devastating in the best case scenario). The challenge of increasing the slim odds humanity survives the next 400 years is big enough. Small wars or skirmishes may happen. A conflict is a good way to control aggressive groups of people while effectively reducing their number. The main reason for a belligerent attitude is not understanding the potential of renewables and not understanding the challenges of climate change. NATO and the UN do understand these at least a bit better.
So China can back Belarus and Iran, but realy it must have quite nuanced thoughts about the level of support they will give. Russia same story. If it moves towards peace, good. Is China going to back an invasion into NATO countries? It really can’t afford to. Does it want a world war? Nope. It seems the world is waiting for Putin to announce a new era of peace and cooperation, hopefully for him not with his last breath.
(full disclosure : I din’t think Putin was serious about invading Ukraine so I might be wrong)