How should observers make sense of the various accounts of an incident in the South China Sea?
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Last week I noted that the foreign ministries of Russia and China announced plans to issue a joint statement on the "promotion of international law" during the June 25, 2016 visit of President Vladimir Putin to China. The statement has now been posted to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
A small outcropping of sand occasionally breaks the vast expanse of the South China Sea. These islands are modest, even diminutive, but they form the core of a fierce territorial dispute among six primary claimants: Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. These claimants also clash over their rights and duties in the nearby waters as well as the seabed underneath.