It is probable that China and the US can go to war in the East China Sea because of the China-Japan conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands
Golez: A China-US war is probable in the East China Sea because of the China-Japan conflict over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.
The more dangerous hotspot is the East China Sea where China and Japan confront each other with the most modern planes, air defense and anti ship missiles and deadly war ships. In this narrow corridor, there has been an increasing number of fighter jet scramblings numbering more than 800 a year and it is getting hotter and subject to miscalculations.
We are talking of two powerful countries that have a long history of bad blood. Japan's military budget is increasing every year, now at more than $50 billion for next year and much of that dedicated to conflict in the East China Sea. Japan ordered 42 F-35s. While China’s military budget is around three times that, China has to spread out its resources among a big land army, navies spread out in the South China Sea and East China plus some assets in the Indian ocean.
The US has an ironclad defense treaty with Japan and is deploying next year 16 F-35s in Japan. The US has air force, army, navy and marine bases inside Japan. That should be enough deterrence to prevent China from becoming too adventurous, but China's aggressive incursions in the Senkaku/Diaoyu area are getting more frequent.
The Senkaku islands "are included within the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, meaning that a defense of the islands by Japan would require the United States to come to Japan's aid." Therefore if Japan and China go to war, the US will also go to war.
What will prevent that war is if China is deterred by an overwhelming superiority of Japan-US forces in the East China Sea and nearby.
Strategic analysts are accepting a scenario of a deadly conventional war without the use of nuclear weapons for as long as the survival of China's mainland is not at stake. The US outnumbers China's nuclear warheads almost 10 to 1 and that should be enough deterrent for China to be very prudent about the use of nuclear weapons.
Japan is banned by their Constitution from acquiring nuclear weapons, but that can be changed if demanded by their national security. Their defense laws have undergone big changes last year. Japan has no nuclear weapons but it is treated as a nuclear capable power because it has the technological capability to produce nuclear weapons within one year.
To reiterate, a China-US war can be triggered more by the East China Sea conflict and not by the South China Sea conflict because of the superheated tension between China and Japan over the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands.
I posted this in my blog as early as in 2013; the situation has become hotter since then: