The drive for oil and natural gas exploration has brought the simmering conflict to the surface with increasingly bellicose stands on territorial claims to islands and access to shipping lanes, in this highly contested Pacific zone. A list of the sequence of key incidents.
February 2011 – Wall Street Journal reports, the Chinese frigate “Dongguan” fires three shots at Filipino fishing boats in the vicinity of Jackson Atoll, the Philippines claims.
May 2011 – The BBC reports a clash involving a Vietnamese oil and gas survey ship and Chinese patrol boats off the south-central coast of Vietnam and south of China's Hainan island.
June 2011 – The BBC reports a Norwegian ship (hired by Vietnam Oil & Gas Corporation) clashes with three Chinese patrol boats within Vietnam's claimed Exclusive Economic Zone.
April 2012 – A Philippine warship, the “Gregorio del Pilar”, in a standoff with two Chinese surveillance vessels in the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
September 2012 – Taiwan stages a live-fire drill in the Taiwan-administered Taiping, within the contested Spratly Islands zone. Bangkok Post
March 2013 – A military exercise at James Shoal prompts Malaysia to make a rare private protest to Beijing. Reuters
November 2013 – China marks out the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), requiring all aircraft crossing over this airspace to register with Beijing. Inquirer
March 2014 – Two Philippine vessels are driven out by the Chinese Coast Guard from Ayungin Shoal in the Spratly islands.
May 2014 – The BBC reports, Vietnamese naval ships and Chinese vessels collide in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese ship was trying to prevent China from setting up an oil rig in an area claimed by both nations.
May 2014 – The Philippine foreign ministry accuses China of reclaiming land on a disputed reef in the South China Sea with the intention of building an airstrip.
May 2014 – Japanese and Chinese air forces swap charges, claiming close encounters in the East China Sea near the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Reuters – Lorraine Chow