Western leaders have been warned pushing back on China’s ambitions in the South China Sea could quickly escalate tensions into an all-out nuclear war. Australia National University Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies Professor Hugh White has spoken of a return to the Cold War with the “risk of nuclear war very high.”
Professor White told Sky News Australia: “We have to be realistic that we’re looking at the Asia end of this global contest we do face in China, an exceptionally powerful and exceptionally determined country.
“It really does seek to take the leading place in East Asia and the Western Pacific and to push America out of the region.
“I think that question for Australia, the question for other countries in the region, and the question for America is how do we respond to that.
“Now the instinct of course, based on our experience of history is to push back as hard as we can, and try and keep China in that box.”
“But my worry is that that’s got a high chance of leading to conflict.
“That’s a conflict that in East Asia, I don’t think we could win.
“I don’t think the United States could defeat China in a naval war over an issue like Taiwan, for example.
“The chance of that war going nuclear is I think, very high, and I think we back a bit in the world we were in in the Cold War.”
It comes as US President Joe Biden’s administration added five companies in China to a trade blacklist on Tuesday for allegedly supporting Russia’s military and defense industrial base, flexing its muscle to enforce sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
The Commerce Department, which oversees the blacklist, said the targeted companies had supplied items to Russian “entities of concern” before the February 24 invasion, adding that they “continue to contract to supply Russian entity listed and sanctioned parties.”
The agency also added another 31 entities to the blacklist from countries that include Russia, UAE, Lithuania, Pakistan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam, according to the Federal Register entry. Of the 36 companies added, 25 had China-based operations.
“Today’s action sends a powerful message to entities and individuals across the globe that if they seek to support Russia, the United States will cut them off as well,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez said in a statement.
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Asked whether these Chinese firms had supplied items to Russia’s military, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian neither confirmed nor denied the accusations, but repeated China’s opposition to US sanctions on Russia.
“China and Russia carry out normal trade cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. This should not be interfered with or restricted by any third party,” he told a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.
The Chinese embassy in Washington said Beijing had not provided military assistance to Russia or Ukraine.
It said it would take “necessary measures” to protect the rights of its companies, arguing that the sanctions violate international law.