Really I believe it boils down to how committed both sides are to not backing down.does anybody see how a war breaking out between the US and China in the SCS could actually escalate to ww3? I don't see how it could go beyond a regional east asian war, only way i see how is if russia intervenes on the side of the chinese which is damn near impossible.
That and how bad the initial conflict are.
Very few in The US want or would support a war now.
Only a direct attack on the US or sinking a carrier would move the needle at home for wider conflict.
As far as a scenario that would lead to a direct and rapid escalation beyond Asia the one real way would be if the CCP was on the verge of falling. If they believe their going to lose power then they have nothing to lose in escalating the situation. It offeres them an out by possibly involving others and possibly even defeating the US with their own form of shock and awe.
Always be aware of China’s propaganda tools at work in the US currently. They are by far the most dangerous weapon of war China has to use against America and make no mistake they are and have been fully engaged with us on that front.