Imperial China is protected by Himalayas, jungle, desert and Siberia but the US has a lock on the ocean supply chain. There's no way in or out by sea that cannot be blockaded by the USA and allies. China must steal and fortify rocky outcrops in the China Seas for national security. George Friedman expands this radical view.
To summarize Friedman's article: Three points of China's compass are protected by inhospitable lands with subject peoples. East of the 15 inch annual rainfall line where crops grow well, the Han people dwell in tolerable third world conditions except for a strip of wealthy coastal Han oriented to the world, not the hinterlands. Apart from sea access, China is fairly secure from without but at risk from rich-poor tensions within. For the sea, they plan a great navy but it will take a generation to build the culture and the ships. Self-interest means China must protect the sea lane choke points.
Does this mean war or is there a deal at the right price?