Indeed. US institutions prevented it from being too bellicose. But it was/ has been bellicose, nevertheless. There are ways to subvert institutions and the "neocons" saw these institutions as mere inconveniences.@Xsizor bro the GOP want to re create the Reagan era, while the DNC is in turmoil as the Clinton and Obama faction want to redefine the Democratic party. But both party share the same ideology which is American Hegemony and Exceptionalism. What differentiate is the way they implement, The DNC is more subtle and devious while that of the GOP is more in your face. The only thing that is holding the country together is her institution and I'm afraid the last pillar which is the judiciary and the justice system is being attack deliberately by both side (Trump with his stop the steal and the DNC for Russia gate), if it deteriorated then people had no hope but to take arms, by W. B. Yeats "the center cannot hold, anarchy is the only hope."
Do China have as strong institutions as US ? NO. It is trying to build it but still, it isn't resilient enough. Yet, China doesn't have overarching ambitions or plans for the world. When they accuse China of planning for world domination, they are simply projecting themselves on China. China sure does want to get rich for its sake but that's about it.
Sadly, religion plays a big part in compelling US foreign ambitions. 'Race', in contrast, is the component that are non interventionist and tries to avoid foreign entanglements ( or "mingling"). The reason why those who are concerned for race/culture see economy as less of a priority maybe partly because of this.
Anyway, quite off topic. I really don't think Democrats ( being less turbulent regarding trade matters) will come to power next term. It doesn't matter if they have finally decided on being Clinton or Obama faction. If Republicans come, be ready for severe turbulence and even physical confrontation. China has few years to prepare, whether it be trade, supply chains, currency security or military.