China presents continental shelf stance
Beijing has presented its position to a UN commission for the first time on the demarcation of the outer continental shelf in the East China Sea, saying it is legally and scientifically valid.
Thursday’s presentation to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf concerns the specific location of the demarcation of the continental shelf, evidence for the extension of the continental shelf, and scientific evidence for defining the outer limit of the continental shelf.
Chen Lianzeng, deputy director of the State Oceanic Administration, said the presentation reiterated China’s position that the continental shelf of the East China Sea extends eastward to the Okinawa Trough.
“We presented China’s position and scientific evidence, and strengthened the fact that the continental shelf of the East China Sea extends naturally,” said Li Jiabiao, deputy head of the Second Institute of Oceanography of the administration.
He said according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, China’s continental shelf in the East China Sea can be extended beyond 200 nautical miles from the baseline.
With the presentation, China shows its efforts to safeguard its maritime interests abide by the international law, said Jia Yu, deputy director of the China Institute for Marine Affairs.
Li said the conclusion is made on a geological survey involving 14 scientific research ships and 250,000 sq km of seabed.
According to the Law of the Sea Convention, if the continental shelf of a coastal state extends beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, information on the limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles shall be submitted by the coastal state to the commission.
The commission shall make recommendations to the coastal state on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits of its continental shelf.
“The data and scientific evidence represented by the coastal state will play an important role in whether or not the commission will issue recommendations,” said Zhang Haiwen, deputy director of the China Institute for Marine Affairs.
After representation by the coastal states, the commission will hold a private session to primarily decide if a sub-commission composed of seven members will be formed to submit its recommendations to the UN marine law conference, he said.
Only with the approval of the commission can the outer limits of the continental shelf be established by coastal states.
Whether the commission will approve the demarcation case will not influence the claims on the continental shelf of the coastal states, said Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Xinhua contributed to the story.