While attention has largely focused on the Taiwan Strait as the most likely place for a U.S.-China war to erupt, the spark for conflict could be lit somewhere else entirely, a Chinese military insider has warned.

With dangerously close encounters at sea and in the air on the rise, a conflict is more likely to be triggered by an accident or miscalculation in the increasingly militarized South China Sea, said Zhou Bo, a former senior colonel in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Zhou, who is currently senior fellow of the Center for International Security and Strategy at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, pointed out in an exclusive interview that a war over Taiwan would unlikely be caused by accident, given the level of scrutiny applied to every word uttered and every action taken by each side.