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Does The US Have Stomach For A War: China Is Asking

There’s an unspoken question China’s President Xi is asking: does the US have the stomach for war with China? He’s probably yet to make up his mind but there’s little doubt his maneuvers in the South China Sea, backing Iran as it flexes muscle in the Persian Gulf and support for Russia in Ukraine, are designed to test and challenge President Biden.

“It underscores the point that the real contest is between the US and China,” says Jayadeva Ranade, head of the Centre for China Analysis & Strategy think tank. “China has the wealth, the military capability and the ambition. Will the Americans move to contain it or be content with number two or number three or even number four position? Between three to five years will be a hot time.”

Ranade was speaking with Nitin A. Gokhale, Editor-in-Chief of StratNews Global, at an event in Pune.

“What happens if a US warship bumps into a Chinese warship in the South China Sea? Given the internal situation in China today, what will Xi do? The amount of nationalism he has pumped into the people will come out, the PLA may say we are not ready but given the mood in the street, Xi will have little room for maneuver,” he warned.

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China’s rise has implications for India-US and India-Russia relations, he said. There is a need for the US to reduce the pressure on Moscow, so it gives them the incentive to distance from Beijing.

“India,” he noted, “is keeping avenues open despite Western pressure.”

Right now the Russians need the Chinese, he acknowledged. They need capital and consumer goods from China to supply its Far Eastern region, which enables Putin to save on transport and other costs if the goods had to be sent from the western parts of the country. Despite tensions between Moscow and Beijing over other issues, they will hang together as long as it suits either.

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Left to himself, Nitin A. Gokhale would rather watch films and sports matches but his day job as a media entrepreneur, communications specialist, analyst and author, leaves him little time to indulge in his primary interests. Gokhale in fact started his career in journalism in 1983 as a sports reporter. Since then he has, in the past 41 years, traversed the entire spectrum across print, broadcast and digital space. One of South Asia's leading strategic analysts, Gokhale has moved on from conventional media to become an independent media entrepreneur running three niche digital platforms—BharatShakti, StratNewsGlobal and Interstellar—besides undertaking consultancy and training workshops in communications for military institutions, corporates and individuals. Now better known for his conflict coverage and strategic analyses, Gokhale has lived and reported from India’s North-east for 23 years between 1983 and 2006, been on the ground at Kargil in the summer of 1999 and also brought us live coverage from Sri Lanka’s Eelam War IV between 2006-2009.    An alumni of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawaii, Gokhale now writes, lectures and analyses security and strategic matters in Indo-Pacific and travels regularly to US, Europe, Australia, South and South-East Asia to take part in various seminars and conferences. Gokhale is also a popular visiting faculty at India’s Defence Services Staff College, the three war colleges, India's National Defence College, College of Defence Management and the IB’s intelligence school.