China's Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf:

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Marine Policy 25 (2001) 71}81

China's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf: developments, problems, and prospects Zou Keyuan*
East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore, 7 Arts Link, Singapore 117571, Singapore Received 1 October 2000; accepted 29 November 2000

Abstract China promulgated its Law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf in 1998 after it had rati"ed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1996. By so doing, China has formally established a legal regime for its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. However, China has much to do in implementing the above law. Domestically, it needs some detailed regulations for the implementation; and regionally China has to negotiate with its neighboring countries on the maritime boundary delimitation of the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: China; Taiwan; Exclusive economic zone; Continental shelf; Maritime boundary delimitation

1. Introduction The ocean extends over 140 million square miles, some 71% of the Earth's surface. Human society is closely bound up with the ocean: life itself arose from the sea, climate and weather, even the quality of the air people breathe, depend in great measure on an interplay of the ocean with the atmosphere. The ocean provides man with indispensable food and other important resources, and has also served as a road of communication for trade and commerce among nations as well as among continents from earliest recorded history. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the LOS Convention) has now become a universal code to govern the ocean uses throughout the world. In accordance with the Convention, every coastal State has the right to establish its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) up to 200 nautical miles measured from the baselines of the territorial sea. In the EEZ, the coastal State enjoys sovereign rights to the natural resources and jurisdiction over certain human activities. Likewise, the coastal State has similar rights to the continental shelf, generally up to 200 nautical miles from the baselines of the territorial sea.

The seas bordering on China are all semi-enclosed seas. They are the Bohai Sea, the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea. All the seas except the Bohai Sea have other adjacent coastal States so that maritime boundary delimitation in respect of the EEZ and continental shelf is required to establish clear national jurisdiction for China and also for other coastal States. Given this geographical situation, China is unable to extend its EEZ up to the full range of 200 nautical miles. The Chinese have a long history of using the oceans for sustaining life. With its increasing population and the gradual depletion of natural resources on land, China has paid closer attention to the opportunities existing in the oceans, particularly the EEZ and the continental shelf which can provide natural resources for the Chinese. It is reported that China has begun its `Blue Revolutiona since the early 1990s, and the process will certainly continue progressively into the 21st century. The China Ocean Agenda 21 published in 1996 contains the implementing programmes of sustainable use of the ocean and its resources for the future [3]. For the purpose of establishing a legal regime for the EEZ and continental shelf, a coastal State must at "rst

* Tel.: #65-874-3709; fax: #65-779-3409. E-mail address: (Z. Keyuan).  It came into force in 1994 and as of November 2000, there were 135 signatories. The whole text is reprinted in 21 ILM 1261 (1982).

 For a brief description of these seas in geographical and geologic perspectives, see [1].  The Chinese people began "shing in the East China Sea as early as the Xia Dynasty (see [2]).

0308-597X/01/$ - see front matter 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 3 0 8 - 5 9 7 X...
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