Very good news out of East Asia today,  as both China and Vietnam have taken concrete actions to resolve their disagreements over territory in the South China Sea. This is important because several recent disagreements in East Asia over land have been described by one side as “indisputable,” for example the Senkaku island dispute between Japan and China in which China protests over Japanese ownership of the island group have been ignored by Japan. Conversely, in the Southern China Sea China has used the same language to describe it’s claims to the Spratlys and Paracels, island and reef groups much closer to the shorelines of other countries. This has led to incidents of moderate, if not yet lethal violence, and is a source of concern to observers. Tensions of this kind have historically led to incidents involving loss of life, if not outright warfare. The recent placement of an oil rig off of the coast of Vietnam escalated the situation by the Chinese side, leading to riots on the mainland. These disagreements will not be solved unless all parties are willing to submit to binding arbitration from international judicial authorities, which are themselves very complicated, not least due to the fact that the United States is not a signatory to several international organizations which oversee such judicial efforts, eroding their credibility and ability to impose and costs if one party were to break their agreements.