Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is inter alia part of the so-called ‘complete package’ of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Article 55 of UNCLOS creates the legal regime and distinguishes it from the territorial sea: “The exclusive economic zone is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, subject to the specific legal regime established in this Part, under which the rights and jurisdiction of the coastal State and the rights and freedoms of other States are governed by the relevant provisions of this Convention.” Article 57 defines its breadth, “The exclusive economic zone shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.”
People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been involved in some marine rifts and protracted territorial spats in Asia, and EEZ is been a subject of the few. Worst is that, China has a different cognizance of it.
China has an expansive view of EEZ not consistent with international law for its (China’s) opposition of any military acts within its EEZ if there is no permission to do so, as Global Security website stated.
“We hold a consistent and clear-cut stance on the issue. We oppose any party to take any military acts in our exclusive economic zone without permission,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei conned in a statement for the US and ROK joint military exercises in waters off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula of November 2010.
PRC does not recognize the airspace above its EEZ to be “international airspace” in accordance with its June 1998 ‘EEZ and Continental Shelf Act,’ the website added.
China also purported that conducted activities of a US naval vessel Bowditch and US Navy surveillance ship on September 22, 2002 and May 06, 2009 respectively, violated international law and Chinese Laws.
Thereby United States pronounced, the State “does not exercise sovereignty in the contiguous zone or the EEZ”.
As Captain Raul Pedrozo, JAGC, U.S. Navy, noted “the PRC’s position is inconsistent with international law (including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) and state practice. The PRC’s position is also somewhat disingenuous, as PRC naval units routinely conduct submarine operations, military survey operations, and surveillance/intelligence-collection operations in foreign EEZs throughout the Asia-Pacific region. In short, nothing in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) changes the right of military forces of all nations to conduct military activities in the exclusive economic zone. Moreover, prior to and subsequent to the adoption of UNCLOS military forces have routinely conducted military activities seaward of the twelve-nautical-mile territorial sea without coastal-state notice or consent. These activities include task-force maneuvering….”