China's acquiescence to the draft agreement – which ends more than a decade of deadlock and brings the countries closer to a final, legally binding code of conduct – was likely spurred by a desire to get the issue off the table before Clinton's arrival Thursday night at the ASEAN summit in Bali, Reuters reports.
-Christian Science Monitor
Parts of the disputed territory, which sees 1/3 of all global shipping pass through it, are claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia. The area is also rich in oil and natural gas.
China is open to an agreement that excludes US meddling, but still refuses to acknowledge other countries' territorial claims. The Philippines is hesitant to square off against China in a bilateral disagreement without their big brother/bully from across the Pacific.
In essence, nothing has happened other than a promise amongst ASEAN nations to handle things in house, without Hillary being invited into the dialogue.