Saturday, March 28, 2015

‘China alone in claims to sea’

By Vito Barcelo | Mar. 27, 2015 at 12:01am


NO nation in the world recognizes China’s nine-dash claim in the South China Sea and the weakness of its legal base is the reason Beijing is undertaking massive reclamation in disputed waters, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.
“It reaffirms the belief that no country in the world recognizes that the nine-dash line is a valid claim on the part of China,” Del Rosario said at a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.
Right is might. Foreign Affairs Secretary
Albert del Rosario answers questions during a
forum of the Foreign Correspondents
Association of the Philippines in Manila where
he stressed that no country in the world
recognizes China’s claim in the South China
and West Philippine Seas. AFP PHOTO /
NOEL CELIS
Del Rosario accused China of accelerating its expansionist agenda by changing the size, structure and physical attributes of land features in the South China Sea and have even rammed Filipino vessels in the West Philippine Sea, endangering the lives of fishermen.
“China is aware it has to engage in a battle of public opinion and shape the narrative in its favor given the weak legal case it is standing on,” Del Rosario said, adding that the Philippines chose to pursue international arbitration “to preserve a valued friendship” with China.
The DFA chief highlighted the international community’s significant support for the Philippines’ advocacy for a peaceful and rules-based settlement of disputes in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law.
 Del Rosario welcomed the growing international support after United States Senators John McCain, Bob Corker, Jack Reed and Bob Menendez warned that China’s land reclamation and construction in the region could be considered “a direct challenge, not only to the interests of the United States and the region, but to the entire international community.”
Del Rosario described the US lawmakers view as very helpful, saying it brings into focus with the international community the differences in terms of what is being said and what is happening on the ground.
“We welcome the statements made and we also welcome the call for a more substantive support and focus on the Asia rebalance strategy of the United States,” he added.
Del Rosario said a comprehensive US strategy on Chinese reclamation would likewise add an important voice to Manila’s arbitration case against China.
The Philippines likewise welcomed the Vietnam’s and Indonesia’s stand against China’s continue expansionism in the south China, adding  describing it as helpful in terms of promoting the rule of law and in finding peaceful and nonviolent solutions to the South China Sea claims.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has earlier announced that part of China’s claims to almost the entire the South China Sea has no legal basis.
“The ‘nine-dash line’ that China says marks its maritime border has no basis in any international law,” Jokowi said.
Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Bin said his government told the Permanent Court of Arbitration that Vietnam fully rejected “China’s claim over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes and the adjacent waters.”
China claimed sovereignty over 90% of the water and all the islands in the South China Sea by drawing a nine-dash line covering 90% of that sea, prompting her neighbors to protest that her claim contradicts international law, specifically the 1982 UNCLOS.
“Even as the Philippines filed arbitral proceedings under Article 287 of UNCLOS, however, China continues to undertake unilateral measures that form part of a pattern of forcing a change in the regional status quo in order to advance and realize its ‘nine-dash line’ claim of undisputed sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea,”  Del Rosario said.
“As the arbitration case proceeds, everyone should have a deep appreciation of the case, in the context of our policy on the West Philippine Sea,” he said.
China backs the level of the resources it has poured on consolidating its presence in the South China Sea with an aggressive public diplomacy campaign, in its domestic public, the region and international community, and – as some of you may have noticed -- even in the Philippine public.
He said China is aware that it has to engage in the battle of public opinion and shape the narrative in its favor given the weak legal base that its claims are standing on.
“That said, it is my hope that all Filipinos can work together with us in standing behind our country’s position,” Del Rosario said.
“Ours is a principled position. The challenge, therefore, is to continue communicating effectively and efficiently our principled position on the West Philippine Sea issue.   Even as we face a formidable challenge, we have the law on our side.  International law is the great equalizer,” he said.
Del Rosario expressed confidence that doing the right thing will help the Philippines get what it think is right.
“We are, moreover, in the right. And right is might, ” Del Rosario concluded.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Coming Chinese Crackup


The endgame of communist rule in China has begun, and Xi Jinping’s ruthless measures are only bringing the country closer to a breaking point

Chinese President Xi Jinping, front center, and other Chinese leaders attend the opening meeting on Thursday of the third session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.ENLARGE
Chinese President Xi Jinping, front center, and other Chinese leaders attend the opening meeting on Thursday of the third session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. PHOTO: XINHUA/ZUMA PRESS
On Thursday, the National People’s Congress convened in Beijing in what has become a familiar annual ritual. Some 3,000 “elected” delegates from all over the country—ranging from colorfully clad ethnic minorities to urbane billionaires—will meet for a week to discuss the state of the nation and to engage in the pretense of political participation.
Some see this impressive gathering as a sign of the strength of the Chinese political system—but it masks serious weaknesses. Chinese politics has always had a theatrical veneer, with staged events like the congress intended to project the power and stability of the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP. Officials and citizens alike know that they are supposed to conform to these rituals, participating cheerfully and parroting back official slogans. This behavior is known in Chinese as biaotai, “declaring where one stands,” but it is little more than an act of symbolic compliance.
Despite appearances, China’s political system is badly broken, and nobody knows it better than the Communist Party itself. China’s strongman leader,Xi Jinping, is hoping that a crackdown on dissent and corruption will shore up the party’s rule. He is determined to avoid becoming theMikhail Gorbachev of China, presiding over the party’s collapse. But instead of being the antithesis of Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Xi may well wind up having the same effect. His despotism is severely stressing China’s system and society—and bringing it closer to a breaking point.
Predicting the demise of authoritarian regimes is a risky business. Few Western experts forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union before it occurred in 1991; the CIA missed it entirely. The downfall of Eastern Europe’s communist states two years earlier was similarly scorned as the wishful thinking of anticommunists—until it happened. The post-Soviet “color revolutions” in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan from 2003 to 2005, as well as the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, all burst forth unanticipated.
The Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the site of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989.ENLARGE
The Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the site of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989. PHOTO: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC/GETTY IMAGES
China-watchers have been on high alert for telltale signs of regime decay and decline ever since the regime’s near-death experience in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Since then, several seasoned Sinologists have risked their professional reputations by asserting that the collapse of CCP rule was inevitable. Others were more cautious—myself included. But times change in China, and so must our analyses.
The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many think. We don’t know what the pathway from now until the end will look like, of course. It will probably be highly unstable and unsettled. But until the system begins to unravel in some obvious way, those inside of it will play along—thus contributing to the facade of stability.
Communist rule in China is unlikely to end quietly. A single event is unlikely to trigger a peaceful implosion of the regime. Its demise is likely to be protracted, messy and violent. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Mr. Xi will be deposed in a power struggle or coup d’état. With his aggressive anticorruption campaign—a focus of this week’s National People’s Congress—he is overplaying a weak hand and deeply aggravating key party, state, military and commercial constituencies.
The Chinese have a proverb, waiying, neiruan—hard on the outside, soft on the inside. Mr. Xi is a genuinely tough ruler. He exudes conviction and personal confidence. But this hard personality belies a party and political system that is extremely fragile on the inside.
Consider five telling indications of the regime’s vulnerability and the party’s systemic weaknesses.
A military band conductor during the opening session of the National People’s Congress on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.ENLARGE
A military band conductor during the opening session of the National People’s Congress on Thursday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
First, China’s economic elites have one foot out the door, and they are ready to flee en masse if the system really begins to crumble. In 2014, Shanghai’s Hurun Research Institute, which studies China’s wealthy, found that 64% of the “high net worth individuals” whom it polled—393 millionaires and billionaires—were either emigrating or planning to do so. Rich Chinese are sending their children to study abroad in record numbers (in itself, an indictment of the quality of the Chinese higher-education system).
Just this week, the Journal reported, federal agents searched several Southern California locations that U.S. authorities allege are linked to “multimillion-dollar birth-tourism businesses that enabled thousands of Chinese women to travel here and return home with infants born as U.S. citizens.” Wealthy Chinese are also buying property abroad at record levels and prices, and they are parking their financial assets overseas, often in well-shielded tax havens and shell companies.
Meanwhile, Beijing is trying to extradite back to China a large number of alleged financial fugitives living abroad. When a country’s elites—many of them party members—flee in such large numbers, it is a telling sign of lack of confidence in the regime and the country’s future.
Second, since taking office in 2012, Mr. Xi has greatly intensified the political repression that has blanketed China since 2009. The targets include the press, social media, film, arts and literature, religious groups, the Internet, intellectuals, Tibetans and Uighurs, dissidents, lawyers, NGOs, university students and textbooks. The Central Committee sent a draconian order known as Document No. 9 down through the party hierarchy in 2013, ordering all units to ferret out any seeming endorsement of the West’s “universal values”—including constitutional democracy, civil society, a free press and neoliberal economics.
A more secure and confident government would not institute such a severe crackdown. It is a symptom of the party leadership’s deep anxiety and insecurity.
A protester is pushed to the ground by a paramilitary policeman March 5, 2014, in Beijing before the opening of the National People’s Congress nearby.ENLARGE
A protester is pushed to the ground by a paramilitary policeman March 5, 2014, in Beijing before the opening of the National People’s Congress nearby. PHOTO:ASSOCIATED PRESS
Third, even many regime loyalists are just going through the motions. It is hard to miss the theater of false pretense that has permeated the Chinese body politic for the past few years. Last summer, I was one of a handful of foreigners (and the only American) who attended a conference about the “China Dream,” Mr. Xi’s signature concept, at a party-affiliated think tank in Beijing. We sat through two days of mind-numbing, nonstop presentations by two dozen party scholars—but their faces were frozen, their body language was wooden, and their boredom was palpable. They feigned compliance with the party and their leader’s latest mantra. But it was evident that the propaganda had lost its power, and the emperor had no clothes.
In December, I was back in Beijing for a conference at the Central Party School, the party’s highest institution of doctrinal instruction, and once again, the country’s top officials and foreign policy experts recited their stock slogans verbatim. During lunch one day, I went to the campus bookstore—always an important stop so that I can update myself on what China’s leading cadres are being taught. Tomes on the store’s shelves ranged from Lenin’s “Selected Works” to Condoleezza Rice’s memoirs, and a table at the entrance was piled high with copies of a pamphlet by Mr. Xi on his campaign to promote the “mass line”—that is, the party’s connection to the masses. “How is this selling?” I asked the clerk. “Oh, it’s not,” she replied. “We give it away.” The size of the stack suggested it was hardly a hot item.
Fourth, the corruption that riddles the party-state and the military also pervades Chinese society as a whole. Mr. Xi’s anticorruption campaign is more sustained and severe than any previous one, but no campaign can eliminate the problem. It is stubbornly rooted in the single-party system, patron-client networks, an economy utterly lacking in transparency, a state-controlled media and the absence of the rule of law.
Moreover, Mr. Xi’s campaign is turning out to be at least as much a selective purge as an antigraft campaign. Many of its targets to date have been political clients and allies of former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. Now 88, Mr. Jiang is still the godfather figure of Chinese politics. Going after Mr. Jiang’s patronage network while he is still alive is highly risky for Mr. Xi, particularly since Mr. Xi doesn’t seem to have brought along his own coterie of loyal clients to promote into positions of power. Another problem: Mr. Xi, a child of China’s first-generation revolutionary elites, is one of the party’s “princelings,” and his political ties largely extend to other princelings. This silver-spoon generation is widely reviled in Chinese society at large.
Mr. Xi at the Schloss Bellevue presidential residency during his visit to fellow export powerhouse Germany in Berlin on March 28, 2014.ENLARGE
Mr. Xi at the Schloss Bellevue presidential residency during his visit to fellow export powerhouse Germany in Berlin on March 28, 2014. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Finally, China’s economy—for all the Western views of it as an unstoppable juggernaut—is stuck in a series of systemic traps from which there is no easy exit. In November 2013, Mr. Xi presided over the party’s Third Plenum, which unveiled a huge package of proposed economic reforms, but so far, they are sputtering on the launchpad. Yes, consumer spending has been rising, red tape has been reduced, and some fiscal reforms have been introduced, but overall, Mr. Xi’s ambitious goals have been stillborn. The reform package challenges powerful, deeply entrenched interest groups—such as state-owned enterprises and local party cadres—and they are plainly blocking its implementation.
These five increasingly evident cracks in the regime’s control can be fixed only through political reform. Until and unless China relaxes its draconian political controls, it will never become an innovative society and a “knowledge economy”—a main goal of the Third Plenum reforms. The political system has become the primary impediment to China’s needed social and economic reforms. If Mr. Xi and party leaders don’t relax their grip, they may be summoning precisely the fate they hope to avoid.
In the decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the upper reaches of China’s leadership have been obsessed with the fall of its fellow communist giant. Hundreds of Chinese postmortem analyseshave dissected the causes of the Soviet disintegration.
Mr. Xi’s real “China Dream” has been to avoid the Soviet nightmare. Just a few months into his tenure, he gave a telling internal speech ruing the Soviet Union’s demise and bemoaning Mr. Gorbachev’s betrayals, arguing that Moscow had lacked a “real man” to stand up to its reformist last leader. Mr. Xi’s wave of repression today is meant to be the opposite of Mr. Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost. Instead of opening up, Mr. Xi is doubling down on controls over dissenters, the economy and even rivals within the party.
But reaction and repression aren’t Mr. Xi’s only option. His predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, drew very different lessons from the Soviet collapse. From 2000 to 2008, they instituted policies intended to open up the system with carefully limited political reforms.
They strengthened local party committees and experimented with voting for multicandidate party secretaries. They recruited more businesspeople and intellectuals into the party. They expanded party consultation with nonparty groups and made the Politburo’s proceedings more transparent. They improved feedback mechanisms within the party, implemented more meritocratic criteria for evaluation and promotion, and created a system of mandatory midcareer training for all 45 million state and party cadres. They enforced retirement requirements and rotated officials and military officers between job assignments every couple of years.
In effect, for a while Mr. Jiang and Mr. Hu sought to manage change, not to resist it. But Mr. Xi wants none of this. Since 2009 (when even the heretofore open-minded Mr. Hu changed course and started to clamp down), an increasingly anxious regime has rolled back every single one of these political reforms (with the exception of the cadre-training system). These reforms were masterminded by Mr. Jiang’s political acolyte and former vice president, Zeng Qinghong,who retired in 2008 and is now under suspicion in Mr. Xi’s anticorruption campaign—another symbol of Mr. Xi’s hostility to the measures that might ease the ills of a crumbling system.
Some experts think that Mr. Xi’s harsh tactics may actually presage a more open and reformist direction later in his term. I don’t buy it. This leader and regime see politics in zero-sum terms: Relaxing control, in their view, is a sure step toward the demise of the system and their own downfall. They also take the conspiratorial view that the U.S. is actively working to subvert Communist Party rule. None of this suggests that sweeping reforms are just around the corner.
We cannot predict when Chinese communism will collapse, but it is hard not to conclude that we are witnessing its final phase. The CCP is the world’s second-longest ruling regime (behind only North Korea), and no party can rule forever.
Looking ahead, China-watchers should keep their eyes on the regime’s instruments of control and on those assigned to use those instruments. Large numbers of citizens and party members alike are already voting with their feet and leaving the country or displaying their insincerity by pretending to comply with party dictates.
We should watch for the day when the regime’s propaganda agents and its internal security apparatus start becoming lax in enforcing the party’s writ—or when they begin to identify with dissidents, like the East German Stasi agent in the film “The Lives of Others” who came to sympathize with the targets of his spying. When human empathy starts to win out over ossified authority, the endgame of Chinese communism will really have begun.
Dr. Shambaugh is a professor of international affairs and the director of the China Policy Program at George Washington University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His books include “China’s Communist Party: Atrophy and Adaptation” and, most recently, “China Goes Global: The Partial Power.”
Corrections & Amplifications: 
A photo shows a protester in Beijing being pushed to the ground by a Chinese paramilitary policeman before the opening of the National People’s Congress in March 2014. An earlier version of this article contained a photo caption that incorrectly said the incident was this month. (March 9, 2015)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

China’s territorial line lacks legal foundation, says expert

Saturday, January 17, 2015

East Sea: Are artificial islands more dangerous than oil rigs?

VietNamNet Bridge – Though it is slow and difficult to identify, China’s strategy of building artificial islands in the South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea – East Sea) is dangerous because of its strategic value and the ability to change face that benefits China once the island chain is fully developed .
The "abrasive" move and China's long-term attempt
East Sea, China, artificial islands
China conducts illegal construction activities on Gac Ma (Johnson South Reef) of the Truong Sa Archipelago (Spratly Islands) of Vietnam. Photo: Armed Forces of the Philippines/BBC.
China’s East Sea policy has a clear delineation between short term and long term.
The strategy to maintain a continuous presence in the undisputed waters to gradually turn them into disputed areas has been resolutely pursued by Beijing. The 981 oil rig incident is a typical example. China used this oil rig as a "mobile sovereignty landmark " to maintain its presence in the undisputed waters, even in the areas that are completely within the exclusive economic zone of its neighboring countries.
The objective of turning from "no dispute" to "dispute", from "theirs" to "ours", have been implemented in accordance with the motto of the Chinese people, "What is mine is mine, what's yours, we can negotiate."
Along with that move, China’s strengthening and expansion of the construction of artificial islands has shown their long-term strategic calculations in the East Sea. The 981 oil rig is a pretty risky move, but it is substantially easier to manage and attract the support of the international community for a small country like Vietnam. Meanwhile, though it takes place slowly and is difficult to identify, the artificial island building strategy is more dangerous.
Another way to evaluate China’s East Sea strategy is through changes of targets in certain stages. These are intentional changes. We will see the same thing when considering China's maritime strategy from 2009 to present. For example, how could China say that the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) - signed in 2002 and the guidelines for implementing the DOC signed in 2011 – would be the lodestar navigation of the parties, when the use of force is still a key tool in Beijing's policy.
Currently, what we can see most clearly in China's steps are the consistency of the overall goal to increase the ability to control the entire East Sea. What is not clear is the specific objectives and tasks that every single department of China will perform.
This is considered the main difficulty, because Vietnam in particular and more broadly, the ASEAN countries and the international community in general, will find it difficult to know in detail what the Chinese agencies in charge of the East Sea will do what, when and where.
Keep calm
Therefore, Vietnam should not be so focused on predicting the short-term and specific goals of China, but on learning about the nature and long-term strategy of China.
Vietnam should probably determine the correct perspective and develop a comprehensive strategy for the East Sea before going into each small act of China. From there, from the overall view, Vietnam can build detailed objectives and plans for each phase.
This raises the need to focus on building a long-term and overall strategy to deal with the long-term goal of China. A sound strategy with clear objectives and specific division of tasks will help ensure efficient utilization of resources within and outside the country, thereby creating advantages in the field and on the negotiating table. Without an overall strategy, Vietnam will be unable to cope with the inconsistent statements and actions of China.
Luc Minh Tuan - Vu Thanh Cong

Thursday, January 15, 2015

CHINA’S ‘NINE-DASH LINE’ CLAIM: US MISUNDERSTANDS – ANALYSIS

By By Ye Qiang and Jiang Zongqiang* / RSIS- EAURASIA 14/1/2015

China claims to South China Sea
China claims to South China Sea
The US Department of State’s Paper on China’s Maritime Claims in the South China Sea was published on 5 December 2014. It has confused China’s “dash-line” claim.

China’s controversial “nine-dash line” claim in the South China Sea has triggered long-running misunderstanding in the United States government due to its perennial anxiety and repeated cross-examinations. This misunderstanding basically originates from the different thoughts over territorial and maritime legal matters between China and the West.

This has been reflected in the recent US DoS Paper on China’s Maritime Claims in the South China Sea, put out by the Department of State, which focuses on the coordinates of the dashes, and on the terminologies regarding the maritime laws and Notes Verbales of China, and comes to confusing conclusions.
The localised dimension

However, the US government ignored the inconvenient truth that the “dash-line” should not be seen as stricto sensu – that is, in the strict sense – a frontier in the Chinese context of the 1940s. That means it would be pointless to interpret the implications of the line from the perspective of modern international law. Therefore, any research, in the first place, should be confined to the localisation context of China; and the direction of end-point should go down the path of globalisation. These are two inseparable dimensions to understand China’s “dash-line” claim.

The localisation context refers to the Chinese traditional territorial and maritime legal thought in and before the 1930s and 1940s. In traditional Chinese thought, oceans cannot be monopolised by anyone and are open to all countries and peoples. Before the 20th century, China had never claimed any maritime sovereignty. This was unlike what the West did.

From the 13th century onwards, European countries have been embroiled in an increasingly fierce race for influence at sea. These countries imposed taxes and levies, and prohibited foreigners from fishing and sailing in the maritime zones they controlled, which broke the established maritime order. This situation was obviously not conducive to the interests of the Dutch, which was a maritime trading power at that time.

As a result, the Dutch jurist Grotius published The Mare Liberum in 1609, proposing the famous notion of the freedom of the seas. But Grotius was refuted and attacked by many British scholars headed by John Selden, who published The Mare Clausum in a bid to defend maritime sovereignty. Selden’s ideas prevailed in the 17th century, and European countries actively embarked on the policy of maritime sovereignty.

In the centuries-long debate about oceans, China has always maintained an open maritime policy. For the last thousands of years, China has been conducting economic activities, such as fishing, in the South China Sea, and has been living in peace with neighbouring countries in the process of developing and utilising oceans.

More than two thousand years ago, China opened up a maritime silk road and shared the prosperity of maritime trade with West Asian and European countries. Even in the Ming Dynasty, when Zheng He’s fleet pushed China’s navigation achievement to the peak, China never controlled sea lanes or impaired the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
What did the “dash-line” of the 1940s enclose?

In the second half of the 17th century, the principle of freedom of the seas was generally espoused, which was actually inseparable from the need of European countries to expand global trade and open up overseas market. When the vessels of all countries enjoyed the freedom of navigation across the world’s high seas, China still viewed land as the pillar of its economy and coastal defence remained lacking. Since the late Qing Dynasty, China has always been a victim in terms of the idea of territorial sovereignty, including the insular features.

After the middle of the 20th century, China gradually achieved national liberation and independence, and was able to take part in the international affairs as an equal actor. After the Second World War, China gradually recovered the lost sovereign rights and maintained its jurisdiction over major insular features in the South China Sea.

Therefore, it is easy to understand that, in February 1948, the Chinese government released a Map of the Location of South China Sea Islands, with the main purpose of clarifying China’s inherent territorial sovereignty under the post-war international order. Therefore, when publicising the map with the “dash-line”, China claimed the sovereignty over all the insular features rather than the maritime jurisdiction.
The globalisation dimension

The path of globalisation indicates that, according to modern law of the sea, China is entitled to maritime jurisdiction in certain maritime zones in light of Chinese sovereignty. That is the reason why China claims “sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters” and “sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters as well as the seabed and subsoil thereof” in the 2009 Notes Verbales.

Ironically, these maritime rights and jurisdictions are not created by China. These new concepts originate from Western-dominated law of the sea. China has claimed and exercised maritime jurisdiction in light of the four conventions established in 1958 during the first United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea and the 1982 UNCLOS. The maritime jurisdiction currently claimed by China follows the claims and practice of the international community, especially Western countries, and has never gone beyond the mainstream of the international community.

In addition, it refers to the development and evolution of the principles and rules of modern law of the sea. For example, the free sea is a relative idea. Along with the progress of the times, acts at sea are bound to meet with more and more regulations. This helps to promote maritime safety and sustainable development, conforms to the principle of balance between generations, and serves the common interests of mankind. This is especially true in the enclosed and semi-enclosed seas.

Therefore, China believes, on the one hand, that it enjoys all kinds of rights provided for in the Law of the Sea Convention as well as the customary international law within the “dash-line” other than the territorial sovereignty over insular features. On the other hand, it has been carefully evaluating whether or not to exercise each specific right, and the scope of the rights as well as the manner to exercise.

These are the reasons why China has not yet clarified the title of rights within the “dash-line”, and has not yet claimed specific maritime rights through an accurate frontier composed of coordinate points.

* Ye Qiang and Jiang Zong-qiang are Research Fellows at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, China. They contributed this specially to RSIS Commentary.

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