Inevitably China’s economic growth is slowing down: Xi Jiping’s Party politics are stalling progress towards economic reform; and China’s currency pegged to the US dollar looks way overvalued so fears of currency wars heighten.

All causes for concern in the global trading pits and on the bourses.

But China as the proximate cause of WW111 by 2020?

At the IMF Bretton Woods Conference in May legendary global-macro investor George Soros warned of just this, given the complex of perhaps insurmountable profound problems facing the Chinese leadership and why if the economy stalls with serious consequences for social stability the leadership may foster an external conflict to keep the country together and hold on to power.

And eminent market cycle theorist Charles Nenner puts it ‘odd-on’ that there’ll be a ‘catastrophic war, probably nuclear, by 2020.

As he puts it: ‘the big cycle is the war cycle’ and despite ISIL, the build-up of the most wobbly and incendiary factors in play  points to China with its fraught relationships with the US and the US’s ally Japan, its real politique alliance with Russia and surging military spend.

Of all things, a faction novel, Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, published in the summer,  has got an already tense top brass in the Pentagon on guard as cyber-wars intensify and China talks ever more aggressively as it seeks to counter US ‘blue water’ and space infrastructure hegemony, and protect its global network of vital supply lines and export channels, notably in the South and East China Sea.

At the same time, the Chinese operate on the basis that the US is out to hobble it—and why wouldn’t the US, and why wouldn’t the Chinese think it?– among other things, by blocking exports of advanced US technology to China and the ability of Chinese companies to co-opt US technologies. For instance, China’s Tsinghu Unigroup will not be allowed to acquire US memory chip leader Micron, as a move to upgrade China’s seriously lagging domestic semiconductor industry in the present ‘hot’ atmosphere in Washington.

Ghost Fleet, co-authored by US foreign policy and defense analyst Peter. W. Singer, who was also a key adviser on the war game, Call of Duty, is about a pre-emptive, Pearl Harbour style strike by China, which uses space lasers to disable US satellites and its space infrastructure in general, and forms an alliance with Russia.

It includes scenes of AI-driven drones in high-speed dog fights with jet fighter, and US weaponry infected by malware in Chinese made microprocessors. The tech detail is chilling and precise as is the analysis of the geopolitical background and it reads like a Clancy thriller.

The shape of things to come? It’s being taken mighty seriously in Washington.