Just cant help but think of the Cuban Missile crises as a template for how badly things could escalate. Its not perfectly symmetrical in form, but there are geographical and political similarities — island off coast of powerful larger nation with opposing political system, with a distant powerful foreign sponsor, who has a similar political outlook, and with a leader who thinks he can use said Island as a pivotal point to gain leverage.
Instead of a missile threat its a threat of recognition of Independence, a threat of not recognising Beijing's Authority over its own territory, and thus emboldening other National separatist movements, pro Democracy activists and other agenda driven groups to deepen opposition to Beijing, something that Beijing fears far more than a War with US Carrier battle groups.
The Chinese Military may feel that they are not yet ready for such an engagement with the US, but their Political leaders may also feel that they have no choice when they consider that losing the Status Quo may cause a larger, more dangerous threat to China's’ long term internal stability.
A military face off must either result in one or both sides blinking or both sides kicking off. A War may likely result in a draw, but the larger power, the US, would be perceived as the loser. Trump, as Khrushchev once did, might get something out of rattling China’s cage, but what the US may lose in the Quid Pro Quo is international recognition as being unchallengeable in the world.
If Trump is being guided by Hawkish advisers, then Trump and his Hawks may learn the lesson, as previous Administrations have, of “unintended consequences” by plucking the last feathers from the American Eagle, a job Bush and his Hawks started in 2003 by invading Iraq. Let us hope Don wasn’t listening to foolish advice, but then again, is clumsy Ignorance on this scale any better?