News / Asia

China Says Geology Boosts Island Claims

China is attempting to bolster its claim to the Senkaku/Diayou Islands, which are also claimed by Japan.
China is attempting to bolster its claim to the Senkaku/Diayou Islands, which are also claimed by Japan.
In an attempt to bolster its claims to disputed islands in the East China Sea, China has presented the United Nations what it says is geological evidence proving the islands belong to Beijing.

Lianzeng Chen, the deputy head of China’s State Oceanic Administration, submitted the claim December 13, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.

He said Beijing has the right to claim the undersea continental shelf beyond the normal 200 nautical miles because it is a “natural prolongation” of China's land territory into the East China Sea. This claim would include the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands claimed by both China and Japan.

According to Xinhua, Chen said the geological characteristics of the continental shelf in the East China Sea differ greatly from those of the Okinawa Trough to the east, and accordingly, the trough should be seen as the end of China’s continental shelf.

Jacques deLisle, a University of Pennsylvania law professor and expert on Chinese law, said Beijing is taking a new approach to an old dispute.

“This is yet another salvo in China's contentious maritime territorial disputes with its neighbors in the East and South China Seas,” he said.

Japan’s newly elected prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has been adamant that the Senkaku/Diayou Islands belong to Japan.

DeLisle said the underlying, but not binding, legal principle for disputes like this is that coastal states get a continental shelf of 200 nautical miles, and in some cases, another 150 nautical miles if there's a natural prolongation and no conflicting claims. But there are two caveats, he said.

First is that a longer shelf is permissible when the shelf is part of a "natural prolongation," in a geological or topological sense. In other words, if you drained the ocean, the resulting land would be roughly the same altitude of the landmass.

The second exception comes when two countries have less than 400 nautical miles between their coasts. In that case, dividing the distance equally is a normal, though not fully mandatory, principle for allocating overlapping claims, according to deLisle.

“As all of this suggests, there are a few problems preventing easy or quick resolution,” he said, adding that the application of any principles “depends on some rather technical calls and iffy judgments such as what features are natural prolongation and what are not.”

According to Xinhua, no ruling by the U.N. should be expected soon as “continental shelf demarcation involves complicated scientific and technological problems” and there are many such claims before the body. The report added that any delays would not affect China’s claim.

In addition to the East China Sea, China is involved in several territorial disputes in the South China Sea, including claims to the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands, the Pratas Islands, the Macclesfield Bank, and the Scarborough Shoal.

The islands are highly coveted because of suspected large reserves of oil, natural gas, minerals and fisheries in the surrounding waters.

China’s assertive strategy toward the disputed territories, including establishing a military garrison on one of the Spratly Islands, has led to increased tensions with its neighbors.

You May Like

10 Migrants Drown, While 4,100 Rescued off Libyan Coast

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudi-led Airstrikes Use Banned Cluster Bombs

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen More

Hopes Fade of Finding Survivors of Nepal Earthquake

US military aircraft, heavy equipment and air traffic controllers arrive in Nepal to help manage growing piles of relief supplies clogging Kathmandu airport More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Negashabi from: Canada
December 25, 2012 4:53 PM
sorry there is a typo in my last comment:

"Vietnam invaded Cambodia and legally and brutally treated Vietnam Chinese in 1960s-1970s" should be "illegally and brutally " .Thanks.

by: Negashabi from: Canada
December 25, 2012 2:17 PM
Wangchuk and Sengupta, etc:
Your comments showed your ignorance and prejudice. You guys didn’t even know the history of Diaoyu island (Senkaku islands by Japanese). Even Diaoyu island is controlled by US and Japan now, it is NOT Japanese territory as said by Sengupta, US only allow Japan has administration, NOT sovereignty, because US government knew Diaoyu islands are part of China in terms of Potsdam Declaration and Cario declaration of WWII, US and Japan are allies, why US only transferred administration to Japan in 1970, NOT sovereignty (this issue led to wide protest in Mainland China, Hongkong and Taiwan at that time because US transferred administration of Diaoyu island to Japan without participation of mainland China, Hongkong and Taiwan) if Diaoyu island is really a territory of Japan, why Japan only has administration now? In fact, Japan robbed Diaoyu islands from China in 1895 and didn't follow WWII declaration to return Diaoyu island to China because of cold war after WWII.

Vietnam, India deserved some lessons, Vietnam invaded Cambodia and legally and brutally treated Vietnam Chinese in 1960s-1970s and robbed their properties and forced them to leave in 1960s-1970s. India invaded and crossed China border in 1962 and China just fought back. BY the way, India invaded China together with British army in early 20th. China were invaded many times in the past 200 years by other countries including by Japan. Could you guy try to be knowledgeable for issues related to China and show a bit democracy and hear different voice before your prejudice and ignorant comments.
For God’s sake

by: Jane from: U.S.
December 21, 2012 1:46 PM
Since, geologically, we at one time were one large continent before it broke up about 250 million yrs. ago....then, geologically, the U.S. could then claim that the British Isles were 'part of the U.S. ...since the mountain ranges of our NE coast line match the same material as those of N. Scotland!........this could be said of many countries and islands and countries across the world ....what a ridiculous claim!

by: Wangchuk from: NYC
December 21, 2012 10:06 AM
China's claims to the entire East China Sea and Arunachal Pradesh in India are examples of PRC hegemonism. The CCP views China as the Middle Kingdom & wants to be the sole superpower in Asia. The PRC invaded Tibet in 1950, India in 1962 and attacked Vietnam in 1979. They even claim part of what is now North Korea. Asian nations should stand together, w/ the help of the USA, to stop Chinese imperialism.

by: Hoa Minh Truong from: Australia
December 21, 2012 7:12 AM
China can claim themselves all the world belongs to them, recently they claimed the moon's ownership, that base on a fairy tale. If a day, the Hell has oil, China will say a firs monk came to there for visit his mother, that also bases on the Buddha story...The world couldn't trust any China claims, they apply a saying of French:" La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleurs" ( the powerful people speech is never wrong). Unfortunately, nowadays, China can't do as an once upon a time.
Hoa Minh Truong.
( author of 3 books: the dark journey, good evening Vietnam & from laborer to author)

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
December 20, 2012 8:08 AM
It's clear when we would like to come true our desire, we should compromize each other when the desire is also our neighbor's desire. Making an arbitrary decision with putting through, quibbling, and dogmatism wouldn't help opponents consent. Chinese leaders should become more democratic so that they could accept diverse interests among international societies. That is the very shortcut China actually could come true its desire finally.

by: Igor from: Russia
December 20, 2012 4:43 AM
According to China's absurd theory, China today should belong to Russian continent. Those who are educated and have common sense cannot stand the stunned reasoning of "the Pirate State of China" any longer! Ha ha ha...

by: Sengupta from: India
December 20, 2012 12:34 AM
PRC is always egocentric and outrageous. What PRC claims regarding Senkaku islands (Japanese territories) is based on its ignorance. It must learn Convention on the Law of the Sea.

by: Khmerkrom from: Preynokor
December 19, 2012 10:08 PM
This is the greed of Chinese, they will not only claim the territories around their country but also to the whole world step-by-step, they will say the world belongs to China. It is time for the countries in dispute with the crazy China to unite to fight back the expansionist Chinese communist. In the past, the Communist claimed that America is empiricism but in actual sense, only the communist propaganda. Shame on you, the greedy Chinese.

by: emenot from: hongkong
December 19, 2012 1:51 PM
What does geology geography have to do with this land grab? If according to their principle, they can also claim Russia, Vietnam and all their bordering sovereign neighbors as their. This is just silly!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs