Via Yahoo -- read the story here: China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.
I'm sure it goes something like this in the diplomatic meetings:
Philippine and Vietnamese diplomats: "Hey, you guys can't claim the whole ocean!"
Chinese diplomat: "It's not an ocean, it's a sea. In fact it is the South CHINA Sea, right there in the name. It's ours."
I'm sure it sounds different in Chinese and probably takes a lot longer to say.
The South China Sea is a resource-rich area China is looking to control and exploit. Vital international shipping lanes pass through the area. China would like to be able to control those lanes, closing them if necessary to put pressure on Japan, the Philippines and other nations. The Chinese have increased tensions by garrisoning military units on the otherwise uninhabited Paracel Islands, a small archipelago about a third of the way between the coast of Vietnam and the north Philippines.
With the United States distracted by economic woes and the continued and dubious "War on Terror", China is becoming ever bolder with the advanced military machine it has built. The military build-up was fueled by the dollars of American consumers purchasing cheap Chinese goods from Wal-Mart and other retailers.
This is yet another reason to change our tax structure, reduce size and scope of the federal government, encourage domestic manufacturing, bring our troops home, and build a reliable missile defense system instead of wasting money on Afghan goat-pokers. We could reduce the size of the standing army, upgrade our military technology and save money in the process. We need to be able to take of ourselves, feed and clothe ourselves, and protect our borders and vital interests. That means we need to get out of the UN and stop being World Police.