02 Febrero 2017 08:00
A top Chinese army official warns that conflict between the two great powers is becoming increasingly tangible and real.
Donald Trump's arrival to the White House has put China on its guard. But the country's leaders are not just bracing themselves for another of the president's Twitter outbursts, or for a trade war: they are stepping up preparedness for a real military conflict with the United States.
It might seem almost old fashioned, in this age of cyber warfare, to talk of armed conflict between the world's two greatest powers, but recent provocations carried out by the new US administration have already strained relationships between Washington and Beijing severely. So severely, in fact, that a senior Chinese military official has asserted that war with the US is becoming 'a practical reality'.
According to an article in the South China Morning Post, China is intensifying preparations for a possible military conflict. '"A war within the president's term" or "war breaking out tonight" are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality', said the People's Liberation Army in a commentary on its official website.
The article goes on to say that the Chinese military is particularly focused on maritime security, after White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a press conference on Monday that 'the US is going to make sure that we protect our interests' in the South China Sea.
Last year, China built up a series of artificial islands for military purposes in disputed waters. 'It's a question of if those islands are, in fact, in international waters, and not part of China proper,' said Spicer. 'We're going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country.'
'"A war within the president's term" or "war breaking out tonight" are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality.'
The islands are not the only source of dispute. During Trump's presidential campaign, he accused China of being 'a currency manipulator'. He has also acted against the 'One China' Policy – which accepts that Taiwan is a breakaway Chinese province that should not be officially engaged with by foreign governments – by taking a call from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen.
If war does break out, it looks like China will be ready for it. The Independent reports that the Chinese military has already deployed long-range nuclear missiles on the Russian border – well within range of the US mainland.
It appears that the Chinese army has taken the further step of leaking photos of their preparations to the media. A way of showing Trump that China is not to be toyed with.