The RAND organization considers the likelihood of war between the United States and China:
A recent study issued by the RAND Corporation indicates that a significant fraction of U.S. surface-naval forces involved, including aircraft carriers, and an even greater fraction of Chinese forces could be destroyed early in a spiraling armed conflict.
Although the military balance in the western Pacific still favors the U.S., this is shifting as China invests a major share of its growing military budget into “anti-access/area-denial” capabilities, like anti-ship missiles, designed to strike U.S. forces in the region.
Moreover, although the U.S. spends about three times what China does on military capabilities, China can concentrate on the western Pacific, whereas the U.S. faces threats elsewhere, such as Russia, Iran and the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).
Although China’s military disadvantage is shrinking, it would suffer immense harm—more than the U.S.—in the event of a war. Although the collapse of bilateral trade would damage both economies, virtually all of China’s trade, being seaborne, would be disrupted by a war in the western Pacific.
Does anyone know of any wargaming of direct military conflict between the United States and China that did not expressly preclude it that did not escalate to a nuclear exchange between the two countries? I don’t.
I don’t believe, as RAND apparently does, that complacency will lead to war. I think that the most likely cause of war between the United States and China is the U. S. going to war with North Korea (for whatever reason) and China entering the conflict on North Korea’s side.
That’s the reason I believe in putting what pressure we can on the Chinese authorities, particularly soft power sorts of pressure, before the situation with North Korea gets beyond any control.