Negotiations at the United Nations level over China's claim to valuable ocean resources are missing one key party: China.
The nation's dispute with Japan over these islands is well-documented, but China also has competing claims to sea territory with several other Southeast Asian nations. (Via CCTV)
A look at this map from The New York Times shows overlapping territorial claims with the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia — with natural gas reserves scattered throughout these seas.
Adding to tensions with the Philippines, China has recently moved its only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, into waters around the contested Spratly Islands. It's now conducting naval exercises there. (Via Al Jazeera)
Over the past several months, the Philippines has been seeking U.N. help to resolve the disagreement. The U.N. now says the dispute will go before a court in The Hague. (Via South China Morning Post)
But China says it's not participating in that legal process, and that's pretty notable: It's the first time a nation has ever refused to enter these types of talks under 1982's U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
China's moves in the South and East China Seas have dominated U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Beijing this week. The VP has asked for communication with China that is both "constructive and candid." (Via The Guardian)