China's Policy Towards Territorial Disputes: The Case of the by Chi-kin Lo

By Chi-kin Lo

Considering that 1949 and the founding of the People's Republic, China has been interested in multiple territorial dispute with its neighbours. at the moment the main risky and hazardous dispute is the only over the Paracel and Spratly islands within the South China Sea. With their probably wealthy and available petroleum assets, those islands became the hot enviornment of clash for the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties, China having already fought a warfare with South Vietnam over the Paracel Islands. This booklet, in line with a wealth of basic fabrics within the chinese, is the 1st to make an intensive and total research of China's coverage in the direction of those islands. It bargains with the conflict for the Paracels, the dispute with Vietnam, the disputes with the Philippines and Malaysia, and the connection among the territorial disputes and China's maritime claims within the South China Sea.

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Additional info for China's Policy Towards Territorial Disputes: The Case of the South China Sea Islands (International Politics in Asia Series)

Sample text

However, as the line is open-ended, it leaves the Diaoyudao (Tiao-yu Islands or Senkakus in Japanese) out of its reach, and does not exclude the Natuna Islands of Indonesia. It is not consistent with existing positions of China on these islands. There are two other possible answers to the puzzle, which are more plausible and not incompatible with each other. The first is that China itself does not attach any clear and specific meaning to the line of ‘national boundary’. It is so drawn to represent, in a broad stroke, China’s claim to sovereignty over the island groups—Paracels, Spratlys, Pratas, and Macclesfield Bank—in the South China Sea.

For example, the 1973 working paper states that: A coastal State is entitled to reasonably define the breadth and limits of its territorial sea according to its economic development and national security and having due regard to the legitimate interests of its neighbouring countries and convenience of international navigation, and shall give publicity thereto. (41) According to this provision, there should not be a univeral maximum limit to the breadth of a country’s territorial sea. However, when the Convention on the Law of the Sea, adopted in 1982, set a maximum limit for the breadth of a country’s territorial sea at 12 nautical miles, the Chinese delegation signed without registering any opposition or reservation.

It appears from China’s statement on the Philippines’ claim to sovereignty over some of the Spratly Islands in 1971 that, by then, it was not yet fully aware of the implications of the dispute over the islands for its maritime rights in the South China Sea. Its participation in the United Nations Seabed Committee during 1972–73 certainly changed that. From 1974 onwards, claims to maritime space in the South China Sea have always been included in China’s statements on the disputes over the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

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