Japan proposed a 50-50 delimitation in the 1970s
to resolve the Sino-Japan disputes over the East China Sea continental shelf, China firmly
rejected it. Instead, it adopted
the position that the dispute should be settled on the basis of the “natural
extension of the continental shelf”, meaning that all of the East China Sea
continental shelf extending eastwards from its coastal lines should be Chinese.
This formula, when compared with the “50-50” formula proposed by Tokyo, allows Beijing
to increase the size of its claimed continental shelf by 30,000 sq km.
China negotiated its
territorial disputes over the Heixiazi
Island with Russia in the 1990s (over which
they fought a battle in 1969), it compromised on its claim
over the whole island and accepted a “50-50” formula.
In the Gulf of Tonkin, China accepted the “50-50” formula again, with further compromises over the Vietnam-occupied islands in the Gulf. The eventual result of the boundary demarcation was “53-47”, with
Vietnam taking a larger share of
the maritime area. People later attributed this willingness to compromise with Russia and Vietnam to then-President Jiang
Zemin’s eagerness to settle border disputes.
The maritime settlements with
also set an inconsistent precedent for China’s
historical claims to territory in the South China Sea.
that South East Asian
countries should accept its sovereignty over the geographic features within the
nine-dashed line because historically they have been Chinese. However, China transferred control of White Dragon
70 nm off the coast of Hainan to Vietnam in 1957, despite the fact that
a Chinese fishing village had been on the island for almost
100 years. If this island, so close to the Chinese coastline and with
historical evidence of Chinese occupation and administration, was not
considered to be China’s “historical
territory”, questions can be raised about how the numerous South
China Sea islands, farther away from the mainland and with less
historical evidence, can be considered
as such. The other claimants are pointing to the territorial settlements with Vietnam as an
“example of Chinese double standards”.
China has also set inconsistent legal precedents for its claim that the Nansha (Spratly) Islands – almost all of which are small islands, rocks, low tide elevations or underwater reefs largely incapable of sustaining long-term habitation – are entitled to an EEZ. In the case of the Japanese
of Okinitorishima, China
maintained that small
uninhabited islands should not be given a continental shelf or EEZ of their
own, and added that similar practice should be followed in the South China Sea. If Beijing holds
to this principle, it will be unable to justify its claim over a large part of
the waters around the and within the
nine-dashed line. (Taken from http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/asia/north-east-asia/223-stirring-up-the-south-china-sea-i.pdf) Spratly