Strategypage tells us that China may not be the immenent threat the media had made it out to be, since the press' track record of reporting threats hasn't been so great the past few years:
In the past, opponents have been built up in the media, but when the shooting started, they have turned out to be nowhere near their media-built reputation (see the Republican Guard prior to Desert Storm in 1991 for a classic example). China does seem like a potential opponent in a major war. In the past decade, two Chinese generals have made threats to use nuclear weapons against the United States. A Chinese spy ring was recently unearthed in Los Angeles. How much is China’s military build up real? Is it even the biggest military on the block in Asia?
They point out 2 other major navies in Asia, which China may have to contend with before they get to us:
Two other countries are competitors with China for the position of being the top power in Asia – India and Japan. Both countries are also carrying out major modernization programs, particularly involving their fleets and air forces. Both are already far ahead of China in qualitative terms of having capable naval and air forces.
Well, are they a threat? Maybe, but there's no need to start arming for another Cold War, not when Al Qaeda remains a dire menace.