Slaughter in the East China Sea

Slaughter in the East China Sea

  • What happens if China fights the United States and Japan? A mutual disaster, wargame predicts.

The year is 2030. Chinese troops seize a Japanese island in the South China Sea. Japan dispatches an amphibious task force to retake the island. Soon, U.S. warships and aircraft arrive, accompanying a Japanese flotilla. Their orders are to support Japan while trying to avoid combat with Chinese forces.

That plan soon falls apart. According to a wargame run by the Washington-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS), it is impossible for the U.S. military to step in without American and Chinese troops firing on each other.

The simulation, titled “A Deadly Game: East China Sea Crisis 2030,” was run on July 20 (you can watch the video here). And it had an unusual twist: It was crowdsourced through Zoom, with CNAS staff presenting options to the public participants who would then vote to decide which strategies the Chinese and U.S./Japanese teams would implement.

“The stakes are high,” said Susanna Blume, CNAS’s defense director, to about 400 members of the public who were participating, mostly from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. “Whoever wins this standoff has the potential to shape the Asia-Pacific region for the next decade.”