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While the USA has around a dozen aircraft carriers, Beijing has just one: the second-hand, Soviet-built Liaoning.

Ashley Townshend, a South China Sea expert from the University of Sydney's United States studies center is among the experts alarmed at a possible escalation of tensions with China by the new USA administration.

Furthermore, Trump and his advisors on U.S.

In its first official reaction to Trump taking office, China's foreign minister urged his administration to fully understand the importance of the "one China" principle, which Trump has called into doubt and under which Washington acknowledges China's position of sovereignty over Taiwan.

Vietnam has been grateful for the USA military presence in the region, and its defence of free navigation through waters claimed by China, but it does not want to be dragged into conflict by reckless aggression from the new administration in Washington. "China firmly supports the Middle East peace process and supports the establishment of a State of Palestine enjoying full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders", Xi said. Xi's China will not and can not afford to be seen to buckle to foreign pressure, least of all from Trump. The fact is that for the last few years, China has been raising the value of its currency.

However, it rejects the TPP and imposes greater financial responsibility allies hosting United States forces.

If tariffs on imported Chinese goods are raised by 45 percent, Beijing might retaliate against the imports of USA goods, appeal to the World Trade Organization, and accuse the United States of violating WTO rules and regulations. It was just conceivable that China could use its growing economic clout in West Asia to start a new, meaningful process of negotiations between Israel and Palestine, with the approval of Saudi Arabia and Iran - the two other stops on Xi's trip.

The exchanges have made Vietnam all the more anxious for a message of reassurance of some kind from the Trump administration about its plans for the region.

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In a recent article in Foreign Policy, Bill Hayton, a South China Sea expert notes that in September, James Kraska, a professor of global law at the U.S. Naval War College argued it would be legal for Washington to take such action.

To realize the goal of bringing jobs and production back home, the Trump administration is expected to threaten broader tariffs and other policies to force China to offer concessions on what it regards as unfair trade practices.

But one other major issue of contention remains - trade.

News welcomed an unlikely guest on Tuesday, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, who sat down to deliver a series of warnings to new US President Donald Trump. -China war over the South China Sea?

Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, told his confirmation hearing the usa needs to send a clear signal that China's access to the islands is "not going to be allowed".

China's naval capacities "might not be enough to decisively destroy hostile modern navies, yet they are enough to deny or impede their access to some extent", Noboru Yamaguchi of the International University of Japan told AFP.

A pedestrian walks past a sign for a money exchange in Tsim Sha Tsui district, Hong Kong, China, 13 August 2015. These steps to strengthen the US position in restraining China correspond to Reagan's famous phrase, "peace through strength".

Then again, you really don't want to poke the bear that is China.