China, with its increased military spending and naval might, is often pinpointed by foreign leaders as the regional bully, pushing its boundaries and intimidating smaller neighbors. But other countries have responded with shows of force of their own. Several southeast Asian countries have tightened alliances with Washington and conducted joint military drills. Japan realigned its Self-Defense Forces with the aim to better defend disputed waters. In July, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III asked his country’s congress to approve a massive military upgrade involving new planes and combat helicopters that could be used to defend contested areas in the South China Sea.