Noah Smith has a thought provoking comparison of Contemporary China vs Imperial Japan. Here's some of the thoughts it provoked with me.
I don't think Imperial Japan is the right comparison. I would lean more towards the "Rising Sun" Japan of the 80's and 90's. That economy was a threat to that of the US but was not able to keep apace for many reasons. A truer comparison would have contemporary China compared to a cross of Rising Sun Japan and Soviet Russia. A combination that in my opinion is destined for failure.
China had been giving a lot of leeway to it's entrepreneurs but that leeway has evaporated under Xi Jinping. A growing economy needs innovation and innovation needs freedom. I predict that China's economy will stagnate in the coming years (although reported data won't dare show this). You can't have economic freedom and iron fist control by one person. Won't work.
Smith also seems to believe that China is so big that it doesn't need territory expansion. This doesn't take into account Tibet which was a pure territory grab by the CCP. China needs the waters from the Himalayan mountains for its farms on the plains. What other territory will China deem necessary?
When it comes to military action Smith wants to make this a heads-up fight between the US and China. A more realistic scenario would be China vs an allied group of the US, Japan, South Korea, India, Taiwan and Australia. China would have no real allies (only maybe mercenaries).
Much of the discord in this country is being sown by the Communist Chinese and Russians because they understand that a strong US that appreciates its own strength is unstoppable. A "blame America first" mindset being taught in US schools only plays into their hands.