The South China Sea Disputes: Formula For A Paradigm Shift? – Analysis


China could trigger a paradigm shift in the disputes in the South China Sea if it were to issue charts indicating the outer limit of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claims from the islands over which it claims sovereignty. A full effect ‘equidistance line’ from the largest islands towards the surrounding coasts would create a large area of overlap between the EEZ claims of the ASEAN claimants and the EEZ claim of China from the disputed islands. This could lead to possible provisional arrangements of a practical nature, including joint development zones, in the areas of overlapping claims.

By Robert C Beckman and Clive H Schofield

CALLS ON China to clarify its maritime claims in the South China Sea have been reopened following the testimony on 5 February 2014 by US Assistant Secretary of State for the Asia-Pacific Daniel Russel, before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

Mr Russel stated that the United States takes a strong position that maritime claims must accord with customary international law, and that this means all maritime claims must be derived from land features and otherwise comport with the international law of the sea. He further stated that claims in the South China Sea that are not derived from land features, such as those apparently based on China’s so-called nine-dash line, are fundamentally flawed. He called upon China to clarify or adjust its maritime claims so as to bring them into accordance with the international law of the sea.


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