The threat of a looming conflict between the US and China is higher than ever before as tensions reach new heights, an expert has warned.
Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said Beijing and Washington had been locked up in an intense rivalry that led to many intergovernmental communication channels shutting down.
He told the South China Morning Post: “I think the risks of conflict are rising, especially after the near-collision between the USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer and China’s destroyer the Lanzhou in September in the South China Sea.”
“If situations get out of control and a crisis happens, the impact on bilateral relations could be devastating. And that’s why dialogue is needed.”
Typically, military leaders from the two countries meet unofficially at events to discuss policy for the two armies, but this year’s had to be cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Tensions between the US and China have grown during the pandemic, with both sides blaming each other for their handling of the crisis.
Now, for the first time since the end of the Cold War, three 100,000-tonne US Navy aircraft carriers are patrolling the Pacific Ocean.
Zhou Feng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University, said the current stalemate between the two nations could lead to a conflict.
He stressed that the two sides should try to come up with a way to avoid any possible crisis.
Dr Feng added: “I am quite concerned as the encounters of the two armies in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait appear not to be incidental but intentional, both at sea and in the air.
“Dealing with such intentional encounters requires not only manoeuvres but also political and strategic trust that the intentional encounters do not escalate into hospital options.”
The crisis between the two countries hit a low where Trump’s aide even accused China of “deliberately sending people abroad to spread coronavirus” at the start of the outbreak.
Peter Navarro said: “We’re a lot more prepared under this President than we were when China foisted this on us to begin with.
“China created this virus, they hid the virus and they sent over hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens here to spread that around the world.
“Whether they did that on purpose – that’s an open question. But that’s a fact.”