Thursday, May 31, 2018


Chinese research icebreaker «Xue Long». Photo: Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration

 The Dragon is very insistent that it has interests in the High Arctic Region and international legal rights to use the region. The Arctic Ocean is rather round in general shape and with the exception of some relatively narrow straits is virtually enclosed by the Arctic coastal states such as Canada, Russia, The United States, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Just the internationally recognized 12 mile territorial seas of the coastal states greatly reduce the navigable ice free area in any season. However, there should be no legal issue with non coastal states navigating in the up to 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones of the Arctic Ocean for simple peaceful transport of goods. Mostly that is the right that China claims in the High Arctic and insists upon. When available based on ice conditions. China can reach European markets for their trade goods much faster going over the top of the world than the long way around. And China has sent plenty of commercial vessels through the region to illustrate their rights under international law. In the High Arctic China cites the International Law of the Sea Convention to which the Dragon is signatory as the international legal underpinning of their freedom of navigation rights in a region where they have no coast line.

 The China Seas South and East are also virtually surrounded by coastal states, the largest of which is China. China at best, lines the seas for about less than half of their length while neighboring coastal states such as Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines and others collectively ring the the half of the region closest to the Pacific Ocean proper. Here however, China wants nothing to do with the International Convention on the Law of the Sea. China claims that their self invented and self published "nine dash line" gives them sovereignty over the entire region to practically the low water mark on the beaches of their maritime neighbors. There, the United States claims the identical right of Innocent passage and freedom of navigation that China insists she is entitled to off of the US Coast of Alaska and every other Arctic coastal nation, despite owning no coastal real estate. China has been ruled against in the World Court in this claim in a case brought by the Philippines. The reaction of the Dragon? China refuses to acknowledge or abide by the Court's ruling. You really do have to wonder, does China ever intend to abide by the international convention that she signed? To say the least insisting on strict adherence to such a convention on one semi enclosed sea , and refusing to recognize the convention's provisions on another is inconsistent and rather obviously self serving. The United States does a great deal of commerce with the Far East and Southern Asia and nearly all of this commerce moves by sea through the China Seas. Yet China refuses to recognize the navigation rights of the United States or her coastal neighbors while loudly and unnecessarily demanding such rights from the United States, Canada, Russia and the rest of the states with coast lines on the Arctic Ocean.

 Its no deep secret that the Dragon's naval ambition is to "push the United States back to Pearl Harbor" and totally dominate the "First Island Chain", basically her neighbors across a rather short sea. If anyone thinks that the Dragon can be dealt with in any civil fashion they have to be blind to not only their doings in Tibet, along the Indian border, relations with Taiwan, their island grabbing disputes with Japan; but also the bald faced contrast of their position in the High Arctic and their demands in the China Seas. The dragon is a slippery old reptile and can not be trusted to keep its end of any "deal".

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