Asia-Pacific News

Timeline of latest flare-up in Asia tensions

Riot police stand guard on a street outside a factory building in Binh Duong
VNExpress | AFP | Getty Images

Anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam this week highlight growing tension between China, Asia's biggest economy, and some of its neighbors.

Analysts say geopolitical tensions are a key risk to Asia's economic and political stability and the year so far has seen strained relations between China and Japan as well as its regional neighbors in Southeast Asia.

Here's a timeline of recent developments highlighting the friction.

May 16: China's foreign minister condemns Vietnam in an urgent phone call with the country's deputy prime minister over this week's violent anti-Chinese protests, the official Chinese Xinhua news agency reports.

Read MoreChina foreign minister condemns Vietnam over riots

May 15: Up to 21 people are killed in Vietnam, according to reports. A huge foreign steel project meanwhile is set ablaze as anti-China riots spread in the Southeast Asian state.

May 15: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls for a new interpretation of the country's pacifist constitution that could lead the way for military action overseas. His call followed a report by a panel of advisors recommending changes to defense laws. China criticizes the move.

May 14: Thousands of Vietnamese set fire to foreign factories and rampaged in industrial zones in the south of the country in reaction to Chinese oil drilling in a part of the South China Sea claimed by Vietnam.

Read MoreReal damage impact of Vietnam riots

May 8: China's vice foreign minister says he believes China and Vietnam can solve their disputes peacefully, adding that China has to defend its territory.

May 7: Vietnam says a Chinese vessel intentionally rammed two of its ships at the weekend in a part of the disputed South China Sea where China has deployed a giant oil rig.

May 7: China demands that the Philippines release a Chinese fishing boat and its crew seized in the South China Sea.

Read MoreTensions rise as Vietnam says China rammed ships

April 28: The U.S. and the Philippines sign a 10-year Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement to allow U.S. forces wider access to Philippine bases and to position ships, aircraft, equipment and troops for maritime security.

How badly will politics hurt Vietnam shares?
How badly will politics hurt Vietnam shares?

April 24: U.S. President Barack Obama reassures its ally Japan at the start of an Asia tour. Obama says that disputed islands in the East China Sea claimed by Tokyo and Beijing are covered by a U.S.-Japan security treaty.

April 21: Just ahead of Obama's visit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sends a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine, viewed by critics as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Read MoreObama reassures ally Japan

April 19: Japan starts construction on a new military radar station near islands at the center of a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing.

March 13: During a news conference on the last day of China's annual meeting of parliament, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang says Beijing and Washington must respect each other's core interests.

March 5: U.S. appeals to Japan and South Korea to ease tensions with each other a day after nationalist politicians in Japan urge the government to revise a 1993 apology over Asian women forced by Tokyo to serve in brothels during World War Two.

Feb 1: China says it does not feel threatened by countries in Southeast Asia and is optimistic about the situation in the South China Sea; warns Japan not to "spread rumors" about its new air defense identification zone.

January 19: Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party removes no-war pledge, media report.

Read MoreWhy investors should watch out for Japan-China tensions

January 12: Japan joins the U.S. in criticizing China's new fishing restrictions in the South China Sea.

January 9: U.S. describes new Chinese fishing restrictions in disputed waters in the South China Sea as "provocative and dangerous." The Philippines asks China for clarification of the new rules.

January 8: China raises Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni war shrine at the United Nations in New York.

January 1: Chinese rules requiring foreign fishing vessels to obtain approval to enter waters under its jurisdiction in the South China Sea come into effect.

December 26: Shinzo Abe visits the Yasukuni war shrine in Tokyo that honors Japan's war dead, including some convicted war criminals. China calls the visit "absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people" and Seoul expresses its "regret and anger." U.S. embassy in Tokyo says it is "disappointed."

December 13: U.S. navy issues statement saying a U.S. guided missile cruiser operating in international waters in the South China Sea a week earlier was forced to take evasive action to avoid colliding with a Chinese navy ship. The incident is later confirmed by Chinese authorities.

November 23: China declares "Air Defense Identification Zone" in East China Sea covering territory claimed by China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Move criticized by Tokyo, Seoul and Washington.

(Sources: Reuters, BBC, The Japan Times, Wall Street Journal)