MANILA, Philippines - China is reportedly preparing to submit to the United Nations documents that will help it assert its territorial right over parts of the East China Sea, where it is in dispute with various neighbors.
Citing the Chinese Foreign Ministry, state-owned news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday, September 16, that China will submit preliminary information about the outer limits of its continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles (NM) from a country's baseline that is currently the basis for territorial limits.
China will reportedly submit the partial information to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), the main UN document on maritime affairs.
The Chinese ministry did not indicate when it will exactly make the submission.
China, as well as the Philippines and other claimants in the sea dispute, are asserting their rights on territories, including the potentially rich Reed Bank (or Recto Bank) and the Scarborough Shoal, citing the Unclos which entitles them to waters including a continental shelf comprising the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas 200 NM from the baselines.
But the convention provides that 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 CLCS.
"The natural prolongation of the continental shelf of China in the East China Sea extends to the Okinawa Trough and beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of China is measured," the ministry was quoted as reiterating the official stand of the Chinese government.
Unclos, to which China is a signatory, is an international agreement that sets limits on how much of neighboring seas a nation can consider as their territorial waters or exclusive economic zone.
China's submission coincides with various escalating disputes the rising world power is involved in with various Asian countries, including Japan over Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal in West Philippine Sea. -- Rappler.com