Top Australian Diplomat: U.S.-China War Would Be 'Disastrous'

Australian official doubts conflict will happen, suggests 21st century without a single global superpower.

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War between China and the United States would be "disastrous" for the entire world, says Australia's top diplomat, who also suggests that a conflict between the global giants is unlikely.

As Chinese economic and military power--and its global influence--grows, U.S. analysts, lawmakers, and some Asian leaders worry Beijing could clash with the world's sitting lone superpower: the United States.

A war between the eagle and the dragon would be "disastrous" for both nations, the Asia-Pacific region, and the entire globe, Bob Carr, Australian minister for foreign affairs, told a forum Wednesday in Washington.

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Expert forecasts that China could challenge America's perch atop the global totem pole are based on even more economic growth in China and across the Asia-Pacific region. The Obama administration's ongoing shift of U.S. foreign and national security policies from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific is based on a belief that much of the history of this century will be written there.

But such predictions might be off the mark, says Carr, who spends ample time jetting around the vast region.

The United States dominated much of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st. But the next 88 years, "might not belong to anyone," Carr said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The levers of global and economic power are trending toward being more widely dispersed than some experts predict, Carr says.

He also noted Chinese officials collective response to the administration shift toward their backyard has been "muted," suggesting the U.S. and China will be able to coexist.

Carr showed few signs of worry about what likely would be a bloody and costly U.S.-China war, sounding a much different tone than did Singapore defense chief Ng Eng Hen during an April visit to Washington.

Ng urged increased American engagement in Asia, warning that anything else could spawn deadly U.S.-China tensions.

During an April 4 speech in Washington, Ng called the United States a "resident power" in Asia. But he also made clear Singaporean and other regional leaders feel the U.S. and China must enhance military-to-military contacts, which they believe will help prevent a war.

It was clear from several of Ng's comments in April that Singaporean and other regional leaders are increasingly concerned about a U.S.-China war.

But Carr, who spent the opening part of his prepared remarks underscoring the U.S.-Australian partnership, calls a rising China a good thing for his nation, the Asia-Pacific realm, and the world. Just how China's continued rise goes, he says, will depend largely on Beijing's own actions.

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