It would not surprise me to see us lose a ship or three at the hands of the Chinese military. We would rage and threaten them with some form of retaliation. To which they will smile and tell us to give them our best shot. We might threaten them with our nuclear arsenal, but it would astound me if the Chinese leaders didn't respond with something along the lines of, "We are willing to sacrifice several million lives in order to secure our future, are you? We can hit Seattle, Portland and L.A. in the next half hour if you like..."
What should disturb you is our lack of self reliance in critical industries. Think about WWII. Almost everything we needed for war was produced here. Now, what percentage of components in our weapons systems come from other countries? What percentage comes from the very people that we may one day fight?edit: And what the hell does China stand to gain from this bizarre conspiracy? We'll never pay back those loans if they attack us, and they don't have the ability to invade us so it's not like they can capture resources. You've said why there will be conflict, but what does China stand to gain from escalation to a war? Also, that Panama thing is hilarious. You think Panama is going to refuse passage to a carrier battle group?
Panama is going to interfere with critical US military operations and aid America's enemies openly? Wow.