Conflict between a rising power and an established power is not inevitable as most realist scholars suggest. However, in every relationship, there is a tipping point or a point of no return, and China and the United States are rapidly approaching this point. As traditional diplomatic outlets have done little to resolve the more challenging issues presently affecting the Sino-American relationship, these two great powers have been increasingly relying on their military capabilities and hard power tactics. That’s especially true in the South China Sea, which is one of the single greatest points of contention between China and the United States. While there is a realization on both sides of the Pacific that a kind of strategic stability is necessary to prevent great power conflict, both China and the United States remain unwilling to compromise and make the kind of meaningful concessions required to move the relationship further from confrontation and conflict and closer to cooperation and rapprochement. Instead, these two countries are drawing lines in the sand and preparing for the worst.