A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:

EDITORS NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, the location of several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.

SE ASIA, CHINA AGREE TO TALKS ON CODE OF CONDUCT

Leaders of Southeast Asian countries and China have agreed to launch talks on a code of conduct aimed at controlling disputes in the South China Sea, a step they described as a milestone, but which some experts said was unlikely to bring concrete results.

The agreement reached during a two-day summit last week in the Philippines comes more than 15 years after the adoption of a preliminary Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which has yet to be fully implemented.

A separate statement issued after a meeting between leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and Chinese Premier...