Nov. 21, 2011: During the East Asia conference, the US and ASEAN countries aligned to effectively pressure China on their claims to hold "indisputable sovereignty" over the South China Seas.
Oct. 25, 2011:Global Times commentary warns of "sounds of cannons" if nations involved in territorial disputes in the South China Sea "don't want to change their ways with China."
Oct. 20, 2011: Annual joint US-Philippines marine drills begin, which include a hostile beach assault exercise near the Nansha Islands. At the same time, a Philippine warship struck a Chinese fishing boat in the South China Sea, leading to an apology by the Philippine Navy.
Oct. 18, 2011: Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba proposed a multilateral framework to settle maritime disputes in the South China Sea during a tour of Indonesia and other South-east Asian countries, with China reiterating that it wants to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea through talks between nations that are directly involved, rather than involving other countries.
Oct. 11, 2011: China and Vietnam held talks about control of disputed islands in potentially oil-rich waters claimed by both nations. Both sides signed an agreement that seeks a peaceful resolution for the dispute by maintaining direct communications between the leaders of both countries.
25 July, 2011: Progress is deemed to have been made during the ASEAN Regional Forum. China and ASEAN established a deal to create a set of guidelines for future negotiations to establish a "code of conduct" as a "first step" towards a more sweeping, binding code of conduct. Chinese Foreign minister Yang Jiechi has said that "freedom of navigation in the region is guaranteed," as China has sought to keep the US out of direct negotiations on the region.
July 19, 2011: The South China Sea dispute is a key topic of discussion at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Bali.
July 15, 2011: Vietnam and US launch a series of naval exchanges.
July 9, 2011: The US, Japanese and Australian navies hold a joint drill in the South China Sea.
July 6, 2011: The Philippines' Foreign Secretary Alberto del Rosario visits China to seek a diplomatic solution.
June 28, 2011: The US and the Philippines begin routine naval drills near the South China Sea.
June 26, 2011: China and Vietnam agree to hold talks and resolve the territorial dispute.
June 13, 2011: Vietnam holds live-fire drills in the South China Sea.
May 2003: Vietnam issues a "sovereignty" declaration on the Chinese ban on fishing in the South China Sea, claiming that Vietnam has rights to the Paracel and Nansha Islands/
Nov. 2002: China and ASEAN adopt the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties on the South China Sea, setting the stage for possible commercial cooperation and long-term stability.
2000: In May, Chinese and Philippine foreign ministers agree to "contribute positively toward the formulation and adoption of the regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea." In December, Vietnam and China sign two agreements to resolve long-standing territorial disputes over the Gulf of Tonkin.
1995: China and the Philippines have a conflict in Mischief Reef.
1994: China distributes a map claiming the entire South China Sea, including all the Nansha Islands.
1992: China lands forces on Da Ba Dau reef near Vietnam's claims in Sin Cowe East, triggering a small military skirmish between the two powers. Amid mounting criticism, China offers to negotiate disputes and reiterates its pledge not to use force.
1991: China passes the Law on Territorial Waters and Their Contiguous Areas.
1988: China and Vietnam fight a naval battle just off the Nansha Islands in March.
1978: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos claims the entire territory as part of the Philippines, redrawing the country's map.
1976: North and South Vietnam unify.
1975: South Vietnam occupies part of the Nansha Islands.
Jan. 1974: Chinese military units seize islands in the Paracels, occupied by South Vietnamese armed forces, and China claims sovereignty over the Nansha Islands.
1951: Japan renounces all rights to the Nansha Islands. No resolution is made on who owns them.
1947: The Philippines claims some of the eastern Nansha Islands and the Scarborough Reef.
1946: China declares the Nansha Islands as part of Guangdong province.
1939: The Nansha Islands are invaded and occupied by Japan during the Second World War.
1885: China officially claims all the Nansha Islands.
200-300BC: China first discovers the Nansha Islands and other islands in the South China Sea, and begins to occupy and govern them.