Abstract The South China Sea has been one of the most significant issues in Sino⁃US relations, regional security and even the evolution of global geopolitics. Since directly intervening the given issue in the middle 1990s, the US's policy on the South China Sea has experienced different stages, from policy declaration, diplomatic involvement to military intervention. The basic logic of the US policy builds on the so⁃called strategy of “defending the national interest and international norms”, “maintaining regional military balance” and “strengthening the US's primacy in the region”. After the presidential inauguration, the Trump administration's policy on the South China Sea is shaped by the mixed strategy of containment and offset.Based on radically and stubbornly using military and diplomatic tools, it has become a component to respond to the “strategic competition of great powers”, which increasingly influenced Sino⁃US relations and regional security. China's strategy on the region should focus on the changing circumstance, make full use of various measures, and effectively meet growingly serious challenges in this strategic direction.