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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

China and the law of the sea Otto, Lee Ann


Through an examination of the People's Republic of China's policies on the law of the sea (LOS), this thesis proposes to show the extent to which these policies reflected China's general foreign policy objectives and its specific maritime characteristics. In part I, the determinants of China's LOS policies were examined. From a survey of China's foreign policies from 1949 through 1977, eight objectives were identified as being central to China's foreign relations. Several facets of China's maritime characteristics and its regional maritime disputes were also considered in order to distinguish those characteristics which most likely had an impact on China's LOS policies. In general, China's LOS policies emerged as a result of its participation in the Seabed Committee (1972-1973) and the first six sessions of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (1973-1977). Therefore, part II of the thesis included a discussion of these negotiations focusing specifically on an in-depth description of China's policies and how they related to the policies of other states. From the analysis of China's LOS policies, it was found that the Chinese initially presented their positions on most LOS issues early in the seabed Committee meetings. Secondly, the majority of China's LOS statements, especially during the early sessions, reflected broad policy outlines and general principles rather than specific regulations. Thirdly, it was shown that China's foreign policy objectives of maximizing state control over areas under its jurisdiction, curtailing superpower hegemony, especially that of the Soviet Union, enhancing China's prestige among Third World states, promoting the establishment of a new international legal order, and expanding its contacts with developed as well as developing states all had an impact on China's LOS policies. In addition, China's policies were influenced by its geography, offshore resources, and maritime expertise. It was concluded that China's LOS policies are best explained by reference to China's particular maritime characteristics and the manner in which these characteristics influenced how China pursued its general foreign policy objectives in the LOS issue-area.

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