The current dispute began on April 8, Easter Sunday, when Philippine authorities found eight Chinese fishing boats at Scarborough Shoal, 124 nautical miles west of the country's main island of Luzon.
The Philippines accused the fishermen of being there illegally, and asserted that the area is part of Philippine territory since the shoal, which is near Zambales, is within the country's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
However, China claims all of the South China Sea as its own, even waters up to the coasts of other countries, and Chinese authorities insisted the fishermen have the right to exploit the resources in the area.
The Philippine Navy deployed its biggest and newest warship, BRP Gregorio del Pilar, to Scarborough Shoal immediately after it caught the Chinese fishermen.
The Philippines had planned to arrest the fishermen, but two Chinese surveillance vessels appeared on the scene and blocked the warship from approaching the fishing boats.
The standoff escalated into a diplomatic brawl when both governments publicly protested each other's actions, and traded accusations as to whose presence in the area was illegal.
The conflict also spilled over to cyberspace when alleged Chinese hackers defaced the website of the University of the Philippines on April 20. Filipino hackers retaliated on April 22 and the cyberwar has persisted as of posting time.