Why do you have this false notion that America was somehow a big happy family up until this point? Forgot the Civil War? Forgot segregation and slavery? Forgot the depression? Stop looking out of rose colored glasses and get with reality.
No, A.D. 1937 is the more appropriate analogy as China is looking for more living space much in the same way Nazi Germany did. Only that the Chinese are more patient than the Germans are. They are willing to wait until they have a clear advantage if they can get it. Germany didn't wait long enough.
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The PRC may very well see this as their opportunity, but they too will discover that all power is limited. The vaunted Chinese patience has proven elusive in the last few months as the PRC makes diplomatic blunder after blunder.
Remember one thing that restrains the Chinese. They cannot afford to lose a war or appear to lose a war. If they lose or appear to do so, the power and authority of the Chinese Communitst Party will be endangered.