From the Thesis Abstract: "The South China Sea (SCS) is a resource-rich strategic waterway that has steadily grown in global significance. China and its Southeast Asian neighbors have a long, complicated history of overlapping and competing claims of territorial sovereignty in the SCS. [...] This monograph analyzes two scenarios in the SCS that could potentially lead to conflict between the United States and China. First, the enduring disputes between China and its neighbors could escalate to the point where the United States gets drawn into the conflict as a third party. Secondly, a direct conflict between China and the United States could result from China's discontentment with the United States' execution of freedom of navigation operations in the SCS. An analysis of US and Chinese writings on escalation theory provides a useful framework for explaining how the ongoing disputes in the SCS could lead to an escalation into conflict."
Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library: http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/