Beijing continues to declare that its rise will be peaceful, but other countries are watching its actions to judge whether it will behave like a responsible power.

A key criterion is the extent to which China is willing to be bound by rules and regulations, such as United Nations treaties that it has signed or ratified.

Recent attention has focused on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which China ratified in 1996. Despite its ratification, China is asserting territorial claims that are not supported by the convention, including claims on all the Spratly Islands.