For John, BLUF: Think taxes. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Here is an obscure point, made by Mr Timothy Choi, of the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC), "Why the US Navy’s first South China Sea FONOP wasn’t a FONOP".
FONOP you ask? That would be Freedom of Navigation Operation. Freedom of Navigation means ships are free to roam where they will, unmolested (outside recognized territorial waters). Without this principle of customary international law nations would push their national waters out hundreds of miles and carve out economic zones even further. Soon ships could not go from Point "A" to Point "B" without special permission. The only reason this is important to anyone except sailors is that without Freedom of Navigation nations might feel free to impose duties, taxes, on cargo in transit through "their waters". While this would actually be a good thing for America, it would be bad for individual Americas, as the prices in Walmart and the local Hyundai dealer would go up sharply—to cover the cost of the duties imposed by nations whose claimed waters are transited. The United States Navy conducts FONOP missions to assert the idea of Freedom of Navigation. This is a good thing. However, there is also the term "Innocent Passage", which does not assert the same claim.
In this case, it is Subi Reef, upon which the Chinese have built an airfield. We (the US) said we are going to do a Freedom of Navigation Operation, asserting our claim that the Island does not belong to China. Now the Administration says it was merely Innocent Passage, a different thing. If we say it is "innocent passage" we are, it would seem, conceding sovereignty over this island to China.
Remember, the only reason you care is it will cause the cost of goods sold in the US to go up.
Check the place of manufacture on the things you buy. Wallmart. Target. Home Depot. Auto dealership.
Regards — Cliff