In order to gauge the likelihood of a war with China one has to imagine the economic consequences. For the purposes of simplicity, we'll assume a mere conventional war,since the consequences of an all-out war between the two countries would be unimaginable.
DISRUPTION OF TRADE. First of all the flow of Billions of dollars of consumer goods into the United States would be interrupted. Americans, for the first time in 60 years, would be unable to buy a pair of shoes, toys for their children, most types of clothing goods, etc. Some businesses we never think of, such as honey packaging and lighting fixtures have almost entirely moved to China. There would be a rapid, sustained decline of these goods in the market: mainly because the U.S., and indeed, the world outside of China no longer has the production capacity to manufacture these products. Add to this the massive requisition needs of any military, and U.S. department stores will soon look like the National People's Market Number 117-D of Novosibirsk circa 1985.
The consequences in China would be no less dire. Despite China's best efforts, the US still controls the Middle East. China is already running out of power despite all the new hydroelectric power plants; again, the needs of Fuel of the Military mean that China's cities will come to an almost complete halt. Not only will the trains, planes, and automobiles stop operating, but heating oil, kerosene, even coal would very soon run out. If the US manages to keep control of South Korea, the Chinese would rapidly run out of steel; in fact, they would need to go rolling over North Korea to make a grab for the South in the beginning of the war, like it or not.
If the US succeeded in getting the Western States to impose a trade blockade the resulting cross-shortages would effectively cripple the world economy; the world sugar, aluminum, grain, petroleum, copper, nickel and steel markets would vanish overnight in order to prevent speculators from routing goods and all business would have to be clearly economically controlled.
China, of course, could retaliate by dumping its hundreds of billions of dollars on the world market. If the Dollar span out of control, the US would have a hard time importing the goods it needed to support its massive military importing needs, and its gold reserves would soon vanish. The only realistic response to this would be to confiscate all gold in the United States, as well as all foreign currency deposits. Combined with runaway inflation the middle class of the United States would simply vanish, and in an instant, too.
Yet again, China would fare no better. Its ability to produce consumer goods is only profitable to it if it can export these for needed commodities; with the export channels blocked, mass unemployment, civil unrest and a complete collapse of the domestic economy is likely.
p> In order to keep all this in perspective, please note the following: None of this includes the actual cost of the war! All of these negative effects are merely the effects of the disruption of trade between China and the U.S.
A war between the US and China? Not bloody likely.