The values, judgment, conceptions of reality, and the very thought processes of folks from different civilizations are not the same. Chinese history has been one of Han dominance of East Asia. It reached a form of dynamic equilibrium in the Middle Kingdom in which the Han held hegemony over their world. This equilibrium was upset by Western expansion and imperialism. The Chinese measure this historical anomaly from 1839 with the First Opium War. They refer to the ensuing period as the "Century of Humiliation."
Since 1949 with establishment of the People's Republic of China the Chinese objective has been, imo, to end this period of subordination to the West and to restore a version of the Middle Kingdom. This objective was pursued in earnest after the demise of Mao Zedong. The Chinese fooled the West and its neighbors during the era of Deng Xiaoping with pretense of a "peaceful rise." As China became wealthier and more powerful it became more difficult to maintain this pretense. In pursuance of restoration of a version of the Middle Kingdom, a virulent form of nationalism has been deliberately inculcated among the Chinese people by the Chinese Communist Party and its state apparatus. The propaganda has been so widespread and thoroughgoing that Chinese don't perceive reality in the same way we do.
The Chinese do not want to provoke Americans; however, they do want to intimidate Americans in order to end American hegemony in the Western Pacific. The Chinese intend to raise the cost of American maintenance of its military dominance of that region. That's why the coast of China bristles with ballistic and cruise missiles. The Chinese are in the process of building a Blue Water Navy that they intend to use to control the Western Pacific and to further increase the cost of American military involvement in that region. In the Art of War
Sun Tzu observed that the best sort of victory is to win without having to use force. Thus, the Chinese policy of intimidation is in keeping with an ancient Chinese worldview.
The problem is that the Chinese Communist Party is not as clever as it thinks it is. It is difficult to inculcate virulent nationalism among the Chinese masses and to avoid being captured by its own rhetoric. As they became powerful the Chinese abandoned the pretense of the "peaceful rise", and began focusing on Chinese superiority. In doing so they have created widespread fear among their neighbors.
If the CCP was as clever as it thinks it is it would recognize that the forces of history favor no one. They would also realize that miscalculation is the handmaiden of war.