Which nation would win a war?
Two superpowers eye each other uneasily across the Pacific—one well established after decades of Cold War conflict, the other a rising power eager to reclaim regional hegemony. Fortunately, despite profoundly different political systems, China and the United States are not as intrinsically hostile to each other as were the West and the Soviet Union—in fact, they have a high degree of economic interdependence.
Still, history shows that there is often a risk of war when a rising power challenges the ascendancy of an existing one. Beijing and Washington have profound—though fortunately not comprehensive—disagreements on matters of global governance. They also have reasons to mistrust each other. Fortunately, there are historical examples of rival superpowers coexisting mostly peacefully for long periods of time. For example, see the century in between the defeat of Napoleon and World War I, during which there was no European-wide war.
Still, the balance of power between nations will likely play a role alongside diplomacy—a fleet that is never used in war may still prevent one, for example, by deterring possible opponents.