The South China Sea region continues to be the hotbed for WW3 rumors. The power tussle between the United States and China looks set to culminate into a devastating war. Since International Court declared China?s 9-dash line claims illegal, things have gone from bad to worse.
China is now closer to a conflict with its South Asian neighbours including Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam, than it has ever been for decades. The territorial disputes with its neighbours aside, Beijing?s militaristic expansion in the region is rattling the U.S. With the South China Sea one of the significant trade routes, the U.S. is concerned for their strategic interests in the area.
Tensions are flaring between the United States and China as both the nations have upped their ante, conducting large scale military exercises in the region. The Chinese Navy is currently involved in a Joint Sea 2016 exercise with the Russian Navy. The U.S., for its part, conducted war exercises with its allies Philippines and Japan. At the height of tension, a small skirmish between either ships or aircraft could land both nations in a war. The U.S. might even be forced to enter into a war should an incursion occur against any of its allies.
Sino-US War Predictions
A U.S. military funded think tank, RAND Corporation also warned of a Sino-US war.
?As horrific as a Sino-US war could be, it cannot be considered implausible,? the authors of the RAND Corporation wrote in their August report titled ?War with China: Thinking through the Unthinkable.?
“A war between the US and China would be regional, conventional, and high-tech, and it would be waged mainly on and beneath the sea, in the air, in space, and in cyberspace […].
The authors warned that both nations could suffer heavy military, economic and trade losses. Though in the end, war may ultimately prove futile but the United States might?have upperhand against the China. However, IBTimes report indicated otherwise citing China?s military logistics.
China has Greater Fleet Strength vs the U.S.
The Chinese Navy advantage lies in fleet strength against the mighty United States. Beijing?s fleet strength is a total of 714 vessels compared to the United States 415. These include the destroyers, submarines, aircraft carriers, missile patrols and all others.
China also trumps the United States in the South China Sea region itself. China?s South Sea Fleet has total of 121 warships against 118 vessels of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The People?s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy even has another 205 vessels in order.
In terms of army, China has a huge reserve army of some 619 million soldiers compared to America’s 120 million. However, a Sino-US war would be unlikely to involve the ground forces as it is naval and airborne military resources that will matter.
In addition, the PLA Navy has clear advantage with the new military facilities that they have build across the Spratly islands. The Chinese have constructed seven islands and even built an airplane runway across. They would provide strategic advantage to China, should a war against ?the U.S. occur.
United States has More Advanced Weapons System
Despite China’s strength in numbers, Washington is clearly more advanced in warfare technology than Beijing. The Pacific Fleet may have lesser vessels but the U.S. has 38 submarines and 34 destroyers against 24 submarines and 7 destroyers of China. The U.S. has vastly more fighter aircrafts (2,308 to 1,230) and attack helicopters (957 to 200).
The annual defense budgets of both nations reveal why the U.S. is ahead. The United States? $596 billion budget in 2015 is far greater than the $214 billion by China in the same period. However, Chinese military spending has been increasing at over 2000 percent since 1995 compared to 95 percent over 25 years in the U.S.
With increased defense spending, the Chinese look to soon overtake the U.S. in terms of creating more advanced weapons. The U.S. still has a distinct advantage in military tactics as they have fought two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. China has not fought since 1979 and hence is more at a disadvantage.