I'm not exactly sure what you think they're going to do to us in this or the next generation,
You seem to have mistaken me for one of the people in the article. I was merely explaining to article to someone who had misunderstood it (actually, a apparently a number of people who had misunderstood it--seeing as the mistaken comment was highly rated).
I have not done my own analysis of Chinese vs. US capabilities, and even if I had it wouldn't have been based on whatever these people supposedly saw at the conference (since I wasn't there). Maybe the observations expressed in the article were correct, maybe they were mistaken, or maybe they were even lies.
When you write...:
China is nearly half a century behind us in military tech.
by the time they actually catch up - even if we merely matched their budget - we'd be back to where we were 50 years ago with Russia - neither defensively able to counter the other's offensive capabilities, thus "mutually assured destruction" being the deterrent
Considered that perhaps the people behind the statements in the article may simple not agree with your premise that cold war is actually a desirable state of affairs. And that's probably in some part due to the fact that "mutually assured destruction" only works as a deterrent on people who aren't suicidal or otherwise find with their victories being pyrrhic; consider, for example, the conversation that Robert McNamara says he had with Fidel Castro in `The Fog of War'--something like:
I asked him 3 questions. One, "did you know there were nuclear warheads in Cuba?" Two, "would you have recommended to Khrushchev to use nuclear missiles in the event of an American invasion of Cuba?" And three, "what would have happened to Cuba?" He said, "One, I knew the missiles were there. Two, I would not *have* recommended it, I *did* recommend it! And three, we would have been totally obliterated"
Another consideration is that 50 years can actually be either an incredibly short or incredibly long period in terms of political relations, military technology, and military capabilities (where "capabilities" isn't actually quite the same thing as "technology"). And part of that consideration is that you may actually not get to choose whether 50 years is `short' or `long'.
And yet another is that, once you get to that `equilibrium' of mutually-assured destruction, even if you assume that everyone else with heavy arms is perfectly sane, it's still not a stable state. e.g.: what if the other if both you and the other guy have enough nuclear ICBMs to ensure mutual destruction given current launch- and early-warning technology, and current levels of strategy and tactics..., and you're not actually at the absolute pinnacle of all of those things yet? What if ICBMs aren't actually the quickest way of obliterating your enemy that will every be possible, and if there are new breakthroughs in strategy or tactics possibly just around the corner?