Crisis Only a Phone Call Away

John Garnaut describes a conflict-defusing military hotline between Washington and Beijing that is currently in testing, quoting military and political analysts on the likely “flashpoints” that could lead to geopolitical conflict. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

It’s not quite the nuclear hotline out of Dr Strangelove, and nor is this the Cold War, but Beijing and Washington are inching towards the sort of military communication that both sides hope might prevent accidents from getting out of hand.

The reigning superpower and its aspiring challenger tested the defence hotline for the eighth time last month, according to sources briefed by a senior Chinese military officer.

The idea is that a well-placed phone call might prevent any one of the flashpoints that are proliferating on China’s periphery from escalating into full-blown conflict with the United States.

[…]US Defence Department spokeswoman Catherine Wilkinson said the department ”has regular communications with the PLA over the Defence Telephone Line”.

[…]”The hotline has some utility in peace time but probably in a crisis all bets are off,” [said Center for Strategic and International Studies security analyst Bonnie Glaser].

Click through for the entire article and the accompanying infographic ranking and describing the “flashpoints” that could lead to conflict.

Also see prior CDT coverage of some of the contentious geopolitical “flashpoints” mentioned in Garnaut’s article: the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands and recent accusations that China had locked weapons radar on a Japanese ship; Vietnamese accusations that China has been attacking fisherman in disputed areas of the South China Sea; U.S. Navy presence in the South China Sea; China’s ambivalent alliance with North Korea; the relationship between the PRC and Taiwan; and Sino-Indian border dispute.