Picture it: It’s March 1, 2015. Tokyo and Beijing are headed towards what was once the unthinkable.
Over the last several months China has instituted daily non-naval maritime patrols around the hotly disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Beijing is even sending fully-fledged naval assets within the islands’ 12 mile exclusion zone while its aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, exercised only 50 miles away from the islands back in February — truly the end of Beijing’s small-stick diplomatic strategy.
But on 1 March the plot thickens. Two Chinese SU-27 fighters come within 25 feet of a Japanese P-3 Orion surveillance plane just 10 miles west of the Senkakus (sound familiar?). The Japanese pilot gets nervous. A slight tweak at the controls and the Japanese plane collides with one of the Chinese fighters. Both aircraft crash into the ocean, with no survivors.
If China and Japan Went to War: What Would America do? | The National Interest Blog
Any one scenario is not that likely, but the possibility there exists at least one escalation scenario is not insignificant. The fact that we are even reading this type of article should give you reason to pause. People are worried about a China-Japan war that will escalate and drag in the US. And each passing day seems to make things a little worse.
If the best hope for good US-China relations is a highly restrained grand strategy by Beijing, and this type of strategy by Beijing would be historically unprecedented, then we are in trouble. Indeed, there is quite a bit of evidence that China seeks to be regional great power suggesting that the US and China will not get along.
Historically, if a rising power comes into conflict with a hegemonic power, then the chance of war is very high.
The paramount question looming over twenty-first century international politics is: will the United States and China get along?
The best hope for amicable U.S.-China relations rests on Beijing adopting a highly restrained grand strategy, but it would be historically unprecedented if it did so. …
Indeed, a look at China’s national-security policy—its pursuit of antiaccess capabilities, its territorial claims, and discussions of claims to “second island chains”—suggests that it is (at a minimum) aspiring to be a regional great power. The remaining questions are the extent to which Beijing will confine its ambitions to East Asia (as opposed to pursuing a global strategy), and the extent to which it will tolerate U.S. global leadership or seek to undermine U.S. influence.
Commentary: The Sources of the Sino-American Spiral | The National Interest