“China views itself as having suffered in the past from foreign incursions in its territory,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank. “These memories are going to shape its policies and diplomatic interactions with other countries today.”

“From Beijing’s perspective,” Spangler added, “there is a fine line between the US lending its naval expertise to the region and something that feels much more akin to containment.”

US military build up in the Philippines ups the ante in South China Sea