We are seeing now in the news increasing discussion of a "hot" war between China and US because of Trump's deflection of blame for the virus response onto China as well as China's increasingly hardline and aggressive attitude to the world.
But just how likely is a China-US military conflict? Personally, I would say the possibilities of a full-scale war remain low. Because both Beijing and Washington has a nuclear arsenal, there is MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) if either side resorts to total war to try to defeat the other. Unless either sides are willing to bear the cost of nuclear annihilation, the reality of nuclear weapons will deter Beijing and Washington from going all out to destroy the other.
But a lower-scale conflict over Taiwan or in the South China Sea remains a more probable scenario. But even then, that is not very likely. Heated political rhetoric aside, the military balance on the ground has not fundamentally changed much. There is nothing to provoke either side from destablizing the situation in an attempt to seize a decisive victory. China is not happy with Tsai in Taiwan of course, but irritation at Tsai's successful response to the coronavirus notwithstanding, so far there is nothing Tsai has done to be so beyond the pale that would trigger a Chinese military response. The US has also watched with growing concern in recent years over China's expanding control of the South China Sea. The US Navy has stepped up sea patrols around Chinese claimed islands in response, but again, even in those cases, both the US Navy and the PLA Navy have been restrained and are keen to avoid any intentional or accidental clash.
Which leaves politically engineered conflict as the other remaining possibility. Either Trump or Xi can provoke a conflict to deflect blame and attention from their domestic problems. Trump wants diversion from the focus on his incompetent response over the the virus. Xi wants diversion from his initial cover-up of the outbreak. Of course, there will be potentially heavy cost and consequences to this for both sides as well, but if Trump and Xi are desperate to cling to power and they see the fate of their country as secondary to their primary concern to retain individual power, then that scenario can't be ruled out. With the way the world is going, I am not so sure I can dismiss this scenario as easily as the ones above.
So what do you think? A China-US conflict likely or not?