China's Basepoints and Baselines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: A Critical Analysis

Author:Hyunsoo Kim
Position:Professor of International Law at Inha University School of Law, Korea
Pages:135-153
SUMMARY

China’s straight baseline regime deviates from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in a number of ways. Such discrepancies are likely to induce legal and political conflicts between countries, and also the settlement of which would not be easy, in particular, among the East Asian countries. In consideration of this point, the legal issues surrounding China’s straight baselines and basepoints... (see full summary)

 
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China’s Basepoints and Baselines
135
VI JEAIL 1 (2013)
Hyunsoo Kim
China󼚩s straight baseline regime deviates from the UN Convention on the Law
of the Sea in a number of ways. Such discrepancies are likely to induce legal and
     
       
  󼚩s straight baselines and basepoints

     
   󼚩s State practices and laws
      
nor generally recognized as being in accordance with the international law of the
sea. This paper provides important legal insights into China󼚩
     

Keywords
Basepoint, Straight Baseline, Territorial Sea, UNCLOS, State Practice,
Special Circumstances, Maritime Boundary Delimitation
China󼚩s Basepoints and
Baselines under the United
Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea:
A Critical Analysis
Professor of International Law at Inha University School of Law, Korea. LL.B./LL.M. (SNU), Ph.D.(Wales). This
work was supported by the Inha University Research Grant. The author may be contacted at: kimhsoo@inha.ac.kr /
Address: Inha University Law School, 100 Inharo, Nam-gu, Incheon 402-751 Korea.
NOTES & COMMENTS
2013-05-27 󱹙󲻹 2:22:25
136 Hyunsoo Kim
1. Introduction
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (󼚬UNCLOS󼚭)
1
was signed on
December 10, 1982 to establish a reasonable and comprehensive maritime order.
Despite the lofty goals, some countries have recently stretched the provisions of
UNCLOS to expand their marine resources and territory, ignoring the spirit of the
agreement. In particular, China has unilaterally employed straight baselines along
its coastline, thereby establishing a legal basis for claiming vast maritime zones.
However, many of China’s State practices and laws based on straight baselines are
neither in accordance with international law, nor generally recognized as being
international custom.
The main objective of this research is to examine and evaluate China󼚩s straight
baseline regime based not only on UNCLOS, but also on the international law of
the sea. This paper consists of four parts including Introduction and Conclusion.
Part two will provide the background of China’s straight baselines. Part three will
analyze the legal issues surrounding these baselines.
2. Background: China󼚩s Straight Baselines
A. What is the Straight Baseline?
The territorial sea is a particular domain that allows a coastal State to exercise its
sovereignty.
2
The UNCLOS limits the maximum breadth of any territorial sea to
12 nautical miles.
3
In the determination of the breadth of a State󼚩s territorial sea,
it is necessary to establish the point along the coast from which the outer limits
of the territorial sea is to be measured. Here, the baseline is the ground for this
measurement.
4
A baseline is a line from which outer limits of the territorial sea,
1 U.N.T.S. 1833. The UNCLOS was entered into force in 1994 through the joint agreement by 150 member States. See
the full text of the UNCLOS, available at http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/convention_overview_
convention.htm (last visited on Feb. 5, 2013).
2 For details, see R. CHURCHILL & A. LOWE, THE LAW OF THE SEA 71-75 (1999); S. Sharma, Territorial Sea, 11 ENCYCLOPEDIA
OF PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW 328-333 (R. Bernhardt ed., 1989).
3 UNCLOS art. 3.
4 Id. art.5. For details on the baseline, see P.BEAZLEY, MARITIME LIMTS AND BASELINES (1987); I. BROWNLIE, PRINCIPLES OF
PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW 176 (2008); M. EVANS, INTERNATIONAL LAW 626 (2006); L. Alexander, Baseline Delimitation
and Maritime Boundaries, 23 VA. J. INTL L. 503-536 (1983); R. Hodgson & R. Smith, The Informal Single Negotiating
2013-05-27 󱹙󲻹 2:22:25

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