HomeBreaking NewsChina Announces Territorial Sea Baseline in Beibu Gulf, Advancing Boundary Clarification

China Announces Territorial Sea Baseline in Beibu Gulf, Advancing Boundary Clarification

China has taken a significant step in clarifying its maritime boundaries by announcing the baseline of the northern part of the Beibu Gulf in South China, according to experts.

In accordance with the Law on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone enacted in 1992, the Chinese government released a statement on Friday regarding the baseline of the northern part of the Beibu Gulf.

This delineation represents the second step in a three-step process aimed at defining China’s territorial sea baseline. It follows the completion of the delineation of all baselines located in the southern part of China, a move deemed highly significant by Fu Kuncheng, a special research fellow from the Belt and Road Research Institute of Xiamen University.

Previously, the Chinese government had announced the geographical coordinates of territorial sea baselines and points twice before. The first announcement was made in 1996, concerning the Xisha Islands, followed by another in 2012, regarding the Diaoyu Islands and their affiliated islands.

With this latest delineation, the only remaining undisclosed part of China’s territorial sea baselines is alongside the Liaodong Peninsula in the Bohai Sea.

Territorial sea baselines serve as the starting line for coastal countries to establish maritime jurisdiction claims and represent the outer limit of national land territory boundaries.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, coastal states can claim a territorial sea width of 12 nautical miles (approximately 22.22 kilometers), a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, and a continental shelf of up to 350 nautical miles.

However, due to the Beibu Gulf’s unique characteristics, with a maximum width of 180 nautical miles, the exclusive economic zones and continental shelves of China and Vietnam overlap entirely within the Gulf. This necessitates resolution through delimitation.

The signing of an agreement on the delimitation of the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, and continental shelf in the Beibu Gulf between China and Vietnam in 2004 marked the establishment of China’s first maritime boundary. Yet, disputes persisted due to unclear boundaries facing the sea.

Fu emphasized that determining the baselines enables law enforcement officers to precisely measure and calculate the outer boundary of the 12-nautical mile territorial sea. This clarity aids in enforcing maritime law and delineating the outer boundary of the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone on nautical charts.

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