WAR OF WORDS US and China both refuse to back down over South China Sea row that experts fear could trigger World War 3


The stage is set for a major conflict igniting in the hotly disputed maritime region which policy makers and observers fear may end up spiralling out of control

WAR between the US and Chinese forces in the South China Sea could break out in 2019, leading experts fear.

Concerns are mounting the two superpowers could become embroiled in a terrifying conflict in the directly contested region which could kill thousands of people.

President Xi Jinping has told generals to ‘prepare for war’ in the South China Sea

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Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst in defence strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra, told CNN: “China is not going to ease up on its attempts to control the South China Sea in its entirety.

“Basically, what the Chinese want to do is make the South China Sea their lake.”

Mr Davis added that Trump administration would be unlikely to back off in the face of Chinese pressure.

Many believe US President Donald Trump is unlikely to back down should a stand-off escalateAFP OR LICENSORS
Many believe US President Donald Trump is unlikely to back down should a stand-off escalate
Gregory Poling, an Asia and maritime law expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Al Jazeera in October: “There’s a whole basket of issues that could lead to a US-China conflict.

“The South China Sea is the thorniest. It gets right at the heart of US primacy in the region, the international order that Washington built up since World War II and China’s willingness to bully neighbours and challenge that rules-based order.”

If war were to break out between these two countries who have nuclear capabilities the consequences would be devastating to both regions.

Dr Brendan Taylor, Associate Professor at ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, argues Asia is at a dangerous crossroads and could sleepwalk into a global war like in World War One.

In his new book The Four Flashpoints: How Asia Goes to War, the former diplomat warns: “The region is in the throes of a ‘crisis slide’.

“A major war in the Asia-Pacific is more likely than most people to assume.

“The outcome of any such conflict remains to be seen, but it will likely shape the world in ways both unimaginable and terrifying.”