Why do people think a war would be good for the economy? Yes, we have the example of the United States in WWII. Where we kick-started our economy out of the depression by massive government spending on the war. Meanwhile, over in Europe economies were crumbling, because they were spending everything on the war, and most of what they bought was expended making the other guy’s stuff explode.
War could be helpful if it allowed the government to carry out actions that it was normally unable to do, such as impose confiscatory taxes, nationalize productive assets, and force a lot of people to work at gunpoint at stuff they wouldn’t normally do for any amount of money.
However China does not seem to have that sort of problem. China has a fairly strong government, at least compared to other countries in their economic tier. And the government still rules by decree, and can order uncooperative people to be arrested, or shot in head, if they start getting funny ideas.
And note that the whole premise of “war is good for the economy” is that you put everyone to work in factories cranking out goods, and those goods are shipped off to the front where they get exploded and have to be replaced again. Yay, full employment for the workers! And half your work force gets shipped off to the front, where they get exploded and have to be replaced. Yay, more work for the survivors! Except even though the factory workers are nominally getting paid good wages working in those factories, they can’t actually spend that money on useful goods and services because everything is on a war footing. You can’t buy a car or a radio or food with that money, because everything is rationed, and only people critical to the war can get assigned a car.
But note that this scheme–put everyone to work in factories making shit that gets shipped overseas–is exactly what China is already doing, the only difference is they’re exporting manufactured goods around the world instead of exploding them. This is, you know, better for the economy that producing goods and services that are only useful for destroying useful goods and services.
So what we are finding is that the world economy can produce a lot more goods and services than we can use. Paying people to stay at home watching TV is a lot better for the economy than paying them to drop bombs on stuff. Even better is paying them to produce stuff that people actually want.
Anyway, this is a longwinded way of saying that the notion that war is good for the economy is insane. War might be good for the leadership of the country–it might strengthen their position, help them overcome their rivals, and so on. But even if you win the war easily you generally send your country into an economic tailspin. Like I said, it would be better to pay people to stay home and watch TV, the only problem is that for some reason various countries find it easier to justify wars of conquest than paying people to do nothing. War is the health of the state, because it justifies all sorts of state actions. If you can justify those actions without war, then you’re way ahead of the game.