On the evening of May 10th,2016, associate professor Li Mingjiang was invited to deliver a speech entitled South China Sea: Law, Power and Politics at Room 301(3), Nan ‘an Building, hosted by Li Yiping, the dean of school of international relations in Xiamen University. Associate Professor Li now works in The S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Nanyang Technological University. In the speech, Associate Professor Li presented profound analysis on South China Sea conflict according to his years of working experience.
At the beginning of the speech, Associate Professor Li gave a recapitulative introduction of the issue. He said that the issue involved many aspects and could be considered from different perspectives. Associate Professor Li showed a picture of some concepts in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Based on the picture, Associate Professor Li gave a brief review of some provisions related to contiguous zone, 12 nm territorial sea, 200 nm exclusive economic zone and the corresponding rights. He pointed out that the convention was not comprehensive and there was divergence in some vague parts, such as whether or not military reconnaissance should be accepted in exclusive economic zones, over which China and the US hold different views. What’s more, Associate Professor Li illustrated that there was no clear provision involving the ascription of man-made islands and rocks and therefore traditional international law should be adopted when it refers to the man-made islands and rocks, which is exactly what South China Sea conflict revolves around. Associate Professor Li held that the behaviors of Chiang Kai-shek government should be attached more importance when China advocates its historical rights and evidence before that should not be overemphasized.
Associate Professor Li presented that UNCLOS is a newly-emerged thing contradicting some historical laws. The nine-dash line is a historical law, but the exercise of it met with skepticism from some countries. Associate Professor Li said that there was stringent definition of historical rights, which must meet the legal conditions, and that historical rights were non-exclusive and could be claimed by more than one country.
In the end, Associate Professor Li analyzed the South China Sea arbitration submitted by the Philippines， which is of great concern. Associate Professor Li thought that the 15 claims could boil down to three core problems: the judgment of some marine landforms, the law enforcement of China in South China Sea and the legitimacy of China’s nine-dash line. After depicting a picture of the general situation, Associate Professor Li brought up that whatever the arbitration award is, it is of no advantage to China and he believed that improvement should be made in China’s approach to tackling this challenge.
After the speech, Associate Professor Li had interaction with the audience. An awareness of regarding events in the long term and a larger background has been aroused during the speech, which is of great significance to the study and research of students and teachers.
By Yin Xingyan
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