The Chinese are continuing to increase their provocations against their neighbors:
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A Chinese amphibious task force conducted patrol and training missions at a shoal 50 miles from Malaysia’s coast Monday, furthering its assertive claims to nearly all territory in an area that most of the world considers international waters.
Chinese officials said they “were determined to safeguard the country’s sovereignty with their services on the South China Sea” during a ceremony at uninhabited James Shoal, according to Xinhua news agency and the People’s Daily Online, the Communist Party’s official newspaper.
China often sends fishing boats and quasi-military surveillance ships to the hundreds of islands and reefs in the South China Sea that are also claimed by neighboring countries. The visit to James Shoal, known as Zengmu Reef to China, was unusual for the firepower brought to bear on a territory also claimed by Malaysia and Taiwan.
The task force was led by the landing ship Jinggangshan, a 19,000-ton displacement, nearly 700-foot vessel considered by China military analysts to be among the more advanced of the country’s rapidly modernizing military. The craft is able to transport helicopters, marines and air-cushion landing crafts, according to analysts. [Stars & Stripes]
You can read the rest at the link, but it appears that the Chinese are trying to provoke one of these Southeast Asian countries to overreact to further justify a harsher military response to occupy the territory they are trying to claim. At the same time they want to keep the provocations small enough to where it would not justify a US military response. Over time they believe this strategy will allow them to claim the South China Sea.