July 6, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10065

Chinese Academic Ding Duo: 'China Has Sovereignty, Sovereign Rights, And Jurisdiction Over The Taiwan Strait,' U.S. Considers It 'International Waters' To Pursue 'Maritime Hegemony'

July 6, 2022
China | Special Dispatch No. 10065

In June 13, 2022 statements, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin asserted that the Taiwan Strait is not international waters, calling it "an inalienable part of China's territory." He explained: "The Taiwan Strait ranges in width from about 70 nautical miles at its narrowest and 220 nautical miles at its widest. According to UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] and Chinese laws, the waters of the Taiwan Strait, extending from both shores toward the middle of the Strait, are divided into several zones including internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, and the Exclusive Economic Zone. China has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait. At the same time, it respects the lawful rights of other countries in relevant waters."

Adding that "[t]here is no legal basis of 'international waters' in the international law of the sea," he said that "[i]t is a false claim when certain countries call the Taiwan Strait 'international waters' in order to find a pretext for manipulating issues related to Taiwan and threatening China's sovereignty and security. China is firmly against this."[1]

In a June 24, 2022 article titled "'International Waters' Theory Exposes U.S. Rule Hegemony,"  Chinese academic Ding Duo, Deputy Director and an associate research fellow of the Research Center for Oceans Law and Policy at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, stressed that the U.S. considers the Taiwan Strait "international waters" solely for the "purpose of its own maritime operations." The article was published in the Chinese media outlet

Below is Ding Duo's article:[2]


"U.S. Warships Have Frequently Passed Across The Taiwan Strait With High-Profile Political Exaggeration And Hyping Up Public Opinion... Showing The U.S. Military's Provocative Posture Toward The Chinese Mainland"

"Recently, the passive moves and negative remarks of the U.S. on the Taiwan question have continued to stir up tensions across the Taiwan Strait, threatening China's sovereignty and security, and endangering regional peace and stability. While U.S. warships sail across the Taiwan Strait once and again, the U.S. officials frequently hype up the Taiwan Strait as 'international waters' to misinterpret and smear China's position and practices, so as to create excuses for its instigation and support of the 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces and manipulation of Taiwan-related issues.

"In fact, the legal status of the Taiwan Strait has been clear according to international law. The Taiwan Strait, between the Chinese mainland and the Taiwan island, connects the East China Sea and South China Seas from north to south and is about 220 nautical miles wide at its widest point and 70 nautical miles narrow at its narrowest. The waters of the Taiwan Strait extend from the shores of both sides, which in turn includes China's internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, and exclusive economic zone, according to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and China's domestic law. Correspondingly, China enjoys sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over different waters of the Taiwan Strait.

"Specifically, the waters on the landward side of the baselines of the territorial sea of China constitute its internal waters. The breadth of the territorial sea of China is 12 nautical miles, measured from the baselines of the territorial sea, which is determined by the UNCLOS. In China's territorial waters, foreign ships for non-military purposes shall enjoy the right of innocent passage, while foreign ships for military purposes shall be subject to approval by the Government of the People's Republic of China for entering its territorial sea. The central waters of the Taiwan Strait beyond the territorial sea are entirely China's exclusive economic zone (according to the UNCLOS, a country's exclusive economic zone cannot extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the territorial sea is drawn), in which ships and aircraft of other countries enjoy the freedom of navigation and overflight, while taking into account China's rights and obligations as the coastal state and abiding by the laws and regulations formulated by China in accordance with the UNCLOS and considering.

"China respects the legitimate rights of other countries in relevant waters. However, the U.S. warships have frequently passed across the Taiwan Strait with high-profile political exaggeration and hyping up public opinion, linking the passage of warships with the situation across the Taiwan Strait. As a matter of fact, this is showing the U.S. military's provocative posture toward the Chinese mainland and sending wrong signals to the 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces. This serves to undermine the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, deserves severe reprimand, and will inevitably be strongly opposed by China.

"The U.S. Has Repeatedly Claimed That The Taiwan Strait Is International Waters," In "Its Own Unilateral Interpretation Of... The International Law Of The Sea"

"The U.S. has repeatedly claimed that the Taiwan Strait is 'international waters.' However, the so-called 'international waters' is neither derived from the UNCLOS nor from general rules of international law including customary international law; instead, this is an operational, rather than legal, term based on the U.S. internal and external policies, and domestic laws, as well as its own unilateral interpretation of the rules of the international law of the sea.

"The United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines 'international waters' as 'Waters located outside the U.S. territorial sea, which extends 12 nautical miles measured from the baselines of the United States, and outside the territory of any foreign country, including the territorial waters thereof' in terminology interpretation in the Commerce and Foreign Trade section. The US Commander's Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations makes an even more detailed explanation of 'international waters' in the Legal Division of Oceans and Airspace section, arguing that 'for operational purposes, the world's oceans are divided into two parts. The first includes internal waters, territorial seas, and archipelagic waters. These national waters are subject to the territorial sovereignty of coastal nations, with certain navigational rights reserved to the international community. The second part includes contiguous zones, waters of the exclusive economic zone, and the high seas. These are international waters in which all nations enjoy the high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight.' In short, the U.S. tends to regard waters beyond the territorial sovereignty of a country (including the exclusive economic zone in which the coastal state enjoys sovereign rights and jurisdiction) as 'international waters' for the purpose of its own 'maritime operations.'

"Although the UNCLOS stipulates that 'the high seas are open to all States, whether coastal or land locked,' the concept 'international waters' has never been used. The U.S. is crazy about peddling and hyping up the concept: the essence of this practice is that the U.S. tries to transform its one-sided interpretation and unilateral application of the rules of the law of the sea into the most favorable institutional norms and maritime actions internationally. What it truly wants to pursue or maintain is by no means the true freedom of navigation and overflight; instead, it is eager to obtain absolute freedom of operations as a great power with maritime hegemony.

The U.S. "Strays From The Framework Of The International Rule Of Law"

"The U.S. has long posed itself as a 'defender of the international law,' but in fact it has been scandal-ridden. It has chosen to not sign treaties out of selfish interests, or make a series of declarations and reservations to treaties to which it has joined, or 'withdraw' after joining, after attending multiple international treaties' negotiations. Statistics have shown since the 1980s, the U.S. has withdrawn from 17 international organizations or agreements including the United Nations Human Rights Council, WHO, UNESCO, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), and the Open Skies Treaty.

"In addition, it has been transparently clear to the international community who pursues an all-time principle of applying international law in a selective and utilitarian way, who promotes 'exceptionalism,' 'priority' and 'legal isolationism' in the practice of international law, who tries to set up rules of conduct for other countries, but often strays from the framework of the international rule of law. The answers are self-evident."


[1], June 13, 2022.

[2], June 24, 2022.

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