I've recently been getting interested in East Asian geopolitics and stumbled across an article by Robert Kaplan in Foreign Policy, which argues that over the span of decades the demographic and economic axis of the world has shifted from Europe to Asia where population centres are overwhelmingly maritime. With that in mind, the composite cluster of states all with competing territorial claims in the commerce-heavy region make the South China Sea the most likely flashpoint for a global conflict.

Is this opinion widely held or are Chinese attempts to reclaim Taiwan, Sino-Japanese disputes in the East China Sea, or even a conflict with North Korea more likely catalysts for a major war?

  • 1
    Is this opinion widely held ... Unfortunately, opinion-based questions are explicitly off-topic here.
    – Just Me
    Apr 5, 2022 at 0:09
  • 5
    @JustMe, but factual questions are on-topic, and "is this opinion widely held?" is a question of fact, not of opinion.
    – Mark
    Apr 5, 2022 at 2:51

1 Answer 1


In 1922, mankind had just ended the Great War, which wasn't yet World War One. Red and White Russians were fighting a bloody civil war which certainly was seen to influence many other countries, hence the Allied intervention. The mainland Republic of China was in meltdown. Some Germans talked of a war against the Soviets, but mostly they were secretly cooperating.

Certainly nobody talked of Stalingrad in the sense we do now. It was still known as Volgograd. Not Dunkirk, or Normandy, or Pearl Harbor. Who would have predicted Dien Bien Phu, or Saigon, or Srebrenica, or the (first?) Cold War?

What I'm trying to say is that do declare the defining conflict for the next 80 years is a figure of speech, not historical analysis.

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