International Law Studies


While the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) establishes an objective framework for the coordinated handling of the use of the sea by States in the exercise of their legislative, judicial, and executive powers, China’s legislative bodies, in enacting domestic laws for the fulfillment of treaty obligations, distort obligations in its domestic laws to secure their own national interests. For example, Article 6.2 of China’s Territorial Sea Law violates articles of UNCLOS by denying the right of innocent passage. In addition, China is extending its jurisdiction over security to the contiguous zone with Article 13 of the China Territorial Sea Law which, again, violates UNCLOS. Moreover, the 2021 Coast Guard Law of the People’s Republic of China contains problematic or illegal clauses such as the vague concept of “waters under the jurisdiction of China,” coercive measures against warships and government vessels, and vague standard for use of weapons.

China seemingly believes that treaties are binding on other countries and not on itself if they threaten China’s system of governance or core interests. In short, China is a country that either abides by treaties or does not abide by them on a case-by-case basis.