Ok, will China go to war ? I think there is no default choice here, because chinese rulers decide a bit machivellistic, and therefore they have recognized that
China cannot sustain it's own growth of population, wealth(=CO2 Emission), industrial production(=Self polution) these factors lead to social unrest and
this is the last thing the rullers want. Looking back into the past(Tienamen Square Masacre) there is a chinese solution to social unrest - use the patriots view and direct it to an outside scapegoat / enemy.
Japan is the enemy number one, also for historic reasons - japanese nationalism has done it's part in the situation we are in now (masacres, rapes, torture / WWII)
and Japan is an easy enemy because on the one hand it's military force is specialised in defending(the main islands) but what comes in handy is the blood & death bonding with the U.S.
So in reality China wants to demonstrate strength against the U.S. and Japan comes in second(Shinzo Abe - tries to alter the "National Defense Force" into a "National Offense Force" and what gives me the creeps is that Japans tendency for nationalistic thinking is very similar to the chinese view.
China is in a deadlock situation for it's ambitions as a regional superpower, from the military capacity they are. (Nukes, Missiles, Destroyers, Subs, (experimental)Carriers)
The deadlock consists of
- Japan is under direct U.S. protectorate, if China attacks, U.S. are about to react.
- China must find out if the U.S. will react or just play the non aggression card and give up on some rocks in the boiling sea
- U.S. allies
- like swizerland - if someone attacks, they will secure the country by trip/tank mines and asymetric tactics, the only chance to win
for China without paying an extreme death toll would be to blast Taiwan of the earth (Nukes)
- they don't like China, and feel threatened by China, espicially when China held back some good for vietman during the war
- U.S. allies
And well those deserted rocks in the boiling sea are the weakest target, but are a lithmus test for the unconditional military support for Japan to be supported by the U.S. But if China's leaders don't watch their steps closely they could really "kill everyone in China".