On the other hand, the South China Sea is an even more complex issue, involving states with various capabilities and allegiances. Of course this strain amounts to assertions of islands just like the aforementioned disputed area (namely the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands are the largest), but in truth is more about the control of large part if not the whole sea.
There are numerous disputed areas here, and many countries are involved, such as the ROC, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines (with very close ties to the US and a Mutual Defense Treaty) or Malaysia, also two microstates that are wealthy nevertheless (Singapore and Brunei). All of these have some disputes with at least a few other countries, yet the state that is entangled in all of the disputes and therefore claims most of the South China Sea is the PRC. This region is described by many scholars, as being one of the potentially most dangerous areas in the world in the coming years (yes in a world where we have ISIS and the whole of the Middle East), in an otherwise relatively peaceful zone. This sea is very important as many significant trade routes pass through it and there are straits of utmost importance for global trade such as the Strait of Singapore or Malacca. Due to this the US is more or less prone to get involved at one point. Contrary to what can be seen in the rest of the world, these countries tend to resolve issues in a generally more peaceful way. Many ASEAN countries are turning to arbitration courts and there are numerous ongoing cases. The question is what happens if these fail to resolve the disputes.
From a PRC perspective, when put into context, the unfriendly and hostile islands form the so-called First Island Chain.
For the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) the great question is how to advance in a region where one slight misstep can amount to severe consequences. Also, there is a question as to how zealous China is to participate in the standoffs more actively, as it is to be known that the country adheres to a policy that prefers to remain defensive and neutral. Despite some signs of willingness to engage, it is to be advised that one should not look at these situations through Western lens, thus from a viewpoint centered around #Military-expansionist approaches.
Although China has successfully built an aircraft-carrier, and the next one is on its way, picturing it as a military aggressor seems to be way down the line and "out of character". However, it needs to be noted that the PRC started using other tactics and is expanding the land mass of an island (literally pumping white sand on it) which is part of the Spratly Islands, Consequently, China would have a greater claim to the whole archipelago and the area of influence that comes with it. This is to show that we are probably on the verge of seeing a more expansionist China, the question is how it is going to manifest itself.