Beijing responds to coordinated pressure to abide by the rule of law—and takes advantage of times when the world looks away.
South China Sea
The South China Sea, home to a wealth of oil and natural gas deposits, is the subject of numerous territorial disputes between the People's Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Beyond the natural resources in the region, there are also vital international trade routes-- about half of all oil tanker shipments cross the South China Sea-- military bases, and fisheries. China, in particular, continues to increase its military presence in the area and island-building, putting both the region and the United States on alert.