Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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China s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and exclusive economic zone EEZ claims in the East China ECS and South China Sea SCS, particularly since late 2013, have heightened concerns among observers that China may be seeking to dominate or gain control of its near-seas region, meaning the ECS, the SCS, and the Yellow Sea. Chinese domination over or control of this region could substantially affect U.S. strategic, political, and economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere. China is a party to multiple territorial disputes in the SCS and ECS, including, in particular, disputes over the Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, and Scarborough Shoal in the SCS, and the Senkaku Islands in the ECS. China depicts its territorial claims in the SCS using the so-called map of the nine-dash line that appears to enclose an area covering roughly 90 of the SCS. Some observers characterize China s approach for asserting and defending its territorial claims in the ECS and SCS as a salami-slicing strategy that employs a series of incremental actions, none of which by itself is a casus belli, to gradually change the status quo in China s favor. In addition to territorial disputes in the SCS and ECS, China is involved in a dispute, particularly with the United States, over whether China has a right under international law to regulate the activities of foreign military forces operating within China s EEZ. The dispute appears to be at the heart of incidents between Chinese and U.S. ships and aircraft in international waters and airspace in 2001, 2002, 2009, 2013, and 2014.
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