Saturday, March 01, 2008

China’s Views of Sovereignty

....Sovereignty Consolidation.

China’s East China Sea boundary dispute with Japan provides a good example of its efforts to consolidate its sovereign claims in its maritime periphery. The focus of the maritime boundary dispute between China and Japan in the East China Sea is an expanse of nearly 70,000 square nautical miles of water space that constitutes the overlap between China’s claim―which reaches from the mainland eastward to the Okinawa Trough just west of the Ryukyu Island chain--and Japan’s claim along a line equidistant from the coastlines of each state.......Significantly complicating factors in the delimitation of the maritime boundary in the East China Sea are the dispute over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyutai to the Chinese) and the unique status of Taiwan. The Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands are a group of 5 small uninhabited rocky islets, the largest of which is 3.6 square kilometers in area. Historically, they were known to the Chinese and mentioned in official documents as early as the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but there is no evidence they were ever taken under effective administration and control by the Chinese.....The tension between China and Japan over resources, boundaries and sovereignty in the East China Sea―and especially the confrontation over Japanese administration of and claim of sovereignty to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands--provides to the PRC government a lever of nationalism to use to divert the attention of the Chinese people from domestic difficulties and to shore up support for the central government during times of domestic political competition.
Peter A. Dutton
Associate Professor, China Maritime Studies Institute
U.S. Naval War College
Testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
China’s Views of Sovereignty and Methods of Access Control
February 27, 2008USCC

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