Is There a War Coming Between China and the U.S.?

Thomas L. Friedman

By Thomas L. Friedman April 27, 2021

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If you’re looking for a compelling beach read this summer, I recommend the novel “2034,” by James Stavridis, a retired admiral, and Elliot Ackerman, a former Marine and intelligence officer. The book is about how China and America go to war in 2034, beginning with a naval battle near Taiwan and with China acting in a tacit alliance with Iran and Russia.

I’m not giving it all away to say China and the U.S. end up in a nuclear shootout and incinerate a few of each other’s cities, and the result is that neutral India becomes the dominant world power. (Hey, it’s a novel!)

What made the book unnerving, though, was that when I’d put it down and pick up the day’s newspaper I’d read much of what it was predicting for 13 years from now:

Iran and China just signed a 25-year cooperation agreement. Vladimir Putin just massed troops on the border of Ukraine while warning the U.S. that anyone who threatens Russia “will regret their deeds more than they have regretted anything in a long time.” As fleets of Chinese fighter jets, armed with electronic warfare technology, now regularly buzz Taiwan, China’s top foreign affairs policymaker just declared that the U.S. “does not have the qualification … to speak to China from a position of strength.” “

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Thank you Thomas Friedman for such a challenging piece. I didn’t realize how important TSMC and advanced micro processors were to Taiwan and the free world. I agree with those who think that China has to be firmly contained, and we have to stop their stealing of our technology and military secrets. Now is a good time to use our aircraft carriers to move between Taiwan and Vietnam, like sentries for the free world. By 1802, the Vietnamese had defeated the Chinese in pitched wars at least seven times. I know the Chinese invaded Vietnam again in 1978 or 79, and Viets blew them to hell with all the guns the Americans had left after their dizzying retreat. The Chinese soldiers then were carrying single shot, bolt action rifles from WW 1. They will be much better armed next time, and there will be a next time. Of course we have to reduce our military budget, and rebuild our country back better, but we would be foolish to disarm or abandon our allies. It is such an irony, that Vietnam might and should become one of our most cherished allies. Maybe, as part of this new friendship, we can help them clean up the agent orange disaster and unexploded ordinance menace that plagues many of their people.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at