Firstly I thought china was not trying to overtake the US or take it's place but china's actions seem to speak otherwise. China seems to be saying if we don't attack first we will be attacked. But for at least a decade china has been very aggressive in it's area and other countries will testify. Like claiming water closer to another nation than your own. That is not a defensive action. Unless china takes over the whole world there will always be "someone with a machine gun" next door. Also China isn't exactly a small lightly defended country so this idea that they are scared of japan or some small US bases compared to china seems odd. Nobody was stopping the chinese from shipping lanes or from exploiting eez territorial waters. But for some reason that was not good enough for china.
Why do you think it's been so easy for the US to build what's turning into an asian nato? China has made that too easy. The chinese used to be biding their time but they have been like hitler invading russia lately. This adventure is turning the world against china and outing it's true intentions, I was more intimidated by china when they were more shrewd. Now it seems they are acting desperate if anything. SCS isn't the only place this sort of thing is happening but it's the most prominent. China grew accustomed to an America and world that ignored what they were doing and now that things have changed they don't seem to be coping well. Others weren't going to be stupid forever. Now that the cat is largely out of the bag china seems to be continuing on. Seems like china can back off and try to get others guard down and continue world conquest plans in a more slow gradual stealth fashion or keep getting bellicose and get bottled up. Another way to put it is china has played cold warrior for decades and the US and to a lesser extent the west has just started recently.
All this to say or ask what is china's plan here? Do they think they can push this coalition around essentially by itself? Maybe before this coaltion formed and some years ago this plan might have made sense but things have changed a lot the last 4 years and trends if anything have reversed. And playing with major war for what? Your analogy was an unarmed civilain surrounded by heavily armed people but 2000-2010 china was not in danger from neighbors that I could recall. It's a self fulfilling prophecy.
This could easily be the daily mail. Express or the guardian tabloid in the UK. So much twisting and fact bending, one wouldn't know where to begin to dissect this trip.