Conflict With China is Inevitable by 2030
It is a fire just waiting for the right moment to be lit. That is, military conflict with China, a fast growing superpower to equal the USA. China has been embarking on a fast track to build up its military. Let's not forget that despite the fact Chinese citizens do enjoy some sort of freedom in their daily lives, it is well controlled by the Communist regime that also allows an illusion that they are a hybrid democracy. Those "freedoms" can be quickly turned off unlike in the real democratic nations.
There are three areas of real potential conflict within the next 10 years:
- South China Sea
- Taiwan Reunification
- The Indian Ocean region and Malacca Straits
Ousting China from their numerous island bases in the South China Sea, west of the Philippines (a once US ally), is already too late for the U.S. The chance to halt this claiming of key atolls as Chinese was back in 2010 or so, before the Chinese had firmly established them. All the U.S. and its allies can do at this point is to sail through the disputed waters claiming they are international waterways in defiance of Chinese warnings. I fear, that when China feels it is an equal to the USA, it will actually fire a missile in warning or worse at the USN ship (or other ships from Vietnam, Thailand etc.). This would be the spark to war as it would surely escalate. In a conflict, what will the once allied Philippines do? Side with China under Duerte, as that seems likely or go against China, a friend in name only until China obtains their vast oil and natural gas reserves in their territorial waters.
Taiwan is another very likely conflict zone. Again, when the Chinese have built up their armed forces to a point they feel they can take on the USA, they will commence actions to reclaim the runaway province of Taiwan. The US and its allies would be hard pressed to prevent it due to its close location to China. It is hard to see how it could be prevented unless tactical nukes are used, but even then, China could overwhelm Taiwan over a period of time and isolating it until it surrenders. As long as China could keep its allies at bay and away from Taiwan, it would just be a matter of time until collapse despite losses.
The Indian Ocean and Malacca Straits is yet another real hotzone. This is basically between India and China. About 80% of China's oil and natural gas comes from the Middle East (Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc.) and loaded onto tankers that sail across the Indian Ocean through the narrow Malacca Straits. This is a real choke point for them should conflict arise between India and China. The Indian Navy most likely could close the straits with allied support forcing China to move its tankers far south around Australia. China has been befriending Pakistan, next to India, and now is building a huge naval base port there. Their plan is to building a gas\oil pipeline through Pakistan and eventually into China to their refineries. This would make the Malacca straits much less important to them. While much of the pipeline is built, much remains to be done as it moves through lawless countryside where terrorists harbor. So, at this point, it is very much incomplete.
Historically, India and China are not friends.They tolerate one another but their border regions are still disputed. The same can be said of India and Pakistan. India is worried about the Chinese naval ships in the IOR, which averages around 10 daily. Hence, they have been also building up their Navy with mostly Russian and American technology to keep the growing Chinese presence in check. Despite this, it is hard to envision how a conflict might start between them, since the Malacca Straits is part of Indonesia. The most likely spark would be between India and Pakistan (a Chinese ally) or another Chinese-India border dispute that goes out of control.