Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood has warned unless the UK has a "national, adult, conversation with China", there could be a "second cold war".
Speaking at an event in Westminster, Mr Ellwood said Britain needed to develop a relationship of trust with "rising superpower" China.
He said: "I predict that unless we have that national, adult, conversation with China over the next year or so, then we will see ourselves falling into a second cold war between the West, primarily, the United States, and China.
"That is what we must avert.
"China is on the rise, there is no turning back."
Mr Ellwood's comments come amid trade tensions between the US and China.
One international organisation has warned the trade war between the two nations risks damaging the US and wider global economy.
Earlier this year, the US Navy was criticised by China for "provocation" after one of its destroyers sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Mr Ellwood also said Britain "must strengthen hard power" and "increase defence spending".
When asked if he was confident the UK needed an increase in military spending, Mr Ellwood said: "Absolutely."
The Defence Minister, who served in the Royal Green Jackets from 1991 to 1996, also predicted that cyber weapons will "become more dangerous than atomic weapons".
He said cyber weapons systems are "all clandestine", while it is already known who is in "the atomic weapon club".