It is not surprising that a US Defense Department spokesman insisted that Washington did not buckle under Beijing's pressure, and that it was the Pentagon's own decision to reconsider the location and the ships for the Yellow Sea naval exercise with South Korea.
The US continued to play its military card to test China's resilience when it announced Wednesday that Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates would meet their South Korean counterparts on July 21 to finalize details of the drill.
Even after reports that part of the drill may be held in the Sea of Japan, the Pentagon kept silent on whether it would involve the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USGeorge Washington - a potential threat to Beijing if it enters the Yellow Sea connecting China and the Korean Peninsula.
The US claims that the joint drill is to serve as a deterrent against North Korea after the sinking of a South Korean battleship. Yet it clearly knows that launching a war game off the western coast of South Korea will also be considered a hostile move against China.
There is no way Washington can reassure Beijing about its intent if it continues with its plan in the Yellow Sea.
Moreover, Beijing has become increasingly assertive in opposing any military activity near its borders.