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Leaked Chinese Memo Warns Of ‘Thucydides Trap’ With US, “War Is Unavoidable”

China’s rapid military modernization efforts have been revealed by leaked internal documents, which indicate Beijing intends to increase its military presence offshore to protect the country’s national interests.

This will allow the country to “manage a crisis, contain a conflict, win a war” and displace the United States as the world leader, according to an internal memo of China’s Central Military Commission obtained by Kyodo News.

The secret memo even warns about Thucydides Trap, a term coined by Harvard’s Graham Allison, is the notion that when an emerging power [China] challenges the well-established leader [US] of the international order — a high probability of a shooting war often ensues.

If Chinese military modernization efforts continue, the memo alludes to escalating friction with neighboring countries, including Japan and Taiwan, in the East and South China Seas.

The document even hints of China overtaking the US in military force, which would mean a shooting war in the South China Sea. The memo was published by the Central Military Commission in February, for the goal of spreading President Xi Jinping’s “thought on strengthening the armed forces.”

“As we open up and expand our national interests beyond borders, we desperately need a comprehensive protection of our own security around the globe, the memo stated.”

The memo adds that through a series of military adjustments, the “balance, dimension and expansion of our strategic goal will be strengthened.” That means it will be conducive to “more effectively create a situation, manage a crisis, contain a conflict, win a war, defend the expansion of our country’s strategic interests in an all-round fashion and realize the goals set by the party and Chairman Xi.”

It also makes clear, “The lessons of history teach us that strong military might is important for a country to grow from being big to being strong. A strong military is a way to circumvent the ‘Thucydides Trap’ and escape the obsession that war is unavoidable between an emerging power and a ruling hegemony.” However, with the developments of militarized islands in the South China Sea, a war between both countries could be inevitable.

The documents point to the recent military improvements as a significant “turning point” for China to “overtake a slower vehicle on a curve,” implying that the US is in terminal decline.

Kyodo News said the report cited several examples of empire collapses, including the Soviet Union and political crisis in some East European countries. One section said military improvements are critical for the Chinese Communist Party’s long-term ruling status.

The memos were leaked earlier this week as China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) launched two high-tech warships expected to deploy railguns within the next decade. Simultaneously, another report stated that China quietly launched an integrated network of electronic warfare weapons installed on militarized islands in the South China Sea. The devices are designed to disrupt or even disable communications and radar systems of US warplanes and naval vessels operating in the region.

The two Type-055 class ships that were launched in Dalian. (Source: The Week) 

Meanwhile, China states that its man-made islands on strategic outposts in the South China Sea are for nonmilitary purposes. Yet the air bases, radome systems, jamming equipment, missile systems, and other defense capabilities seem to serve no other purpose than for military affairs.

Unclassified Report: Surveillance Images Images Show Beijing’s militarisation of the South China Sea. (Source Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Unclassified Report: Surveillance Images Images Show Beijing’s militarisation of the South China Sea. (Source Philippine Daily Inquirer)

It is important to recognize just how extraordinary are the times in which we live. China and the US could be destined for war as explained in the leaked memo. It seems as both countries might not be able to escape Thucydides’s Trap.