Fishing: A New Dimension to China’s Engagement in Maritime Issues
Tác giả: Katherine TSENG Hui-Yi
China: An International Journal, Volume 15, Number 3, August 2017 pp. 184-200
China’s fishing industry has developed substantially since the reform era. Its growing fishing capacity has led to degradation of the marine environment. However, fishing has become a key component in China’s maritime claims of sovereignty. The evolving concepts of sovereignty, territorial rights and fishing rights imply that fishing has become more “sovereignised”. Successful fishery management is also an indication of states’ efficacy to exercise two aspects of internal sovereignty—effective domestic governance and economic interdependence. A historical incident in the 1930s shows that fishing has long been deemed a critical constituent in China’s exercise of sovereignty. Yet, with the tribunal ruling on the South China Sea arbitration that overturns China’s historic rights argument, of which fishing is a critical constituent, China needs to recalibrate its fishing rights and maritime claims.
China’s increased fishing capacity has propelled it to become the world’s largest exporter as well as a key importer of aquatic products. However, its productive catch has inflicted tremendous pressure on the marine environment in inshore waters along the Chinese coast. In the East China Sea, the situation is not much better due to marine pollution caused by heavy marine transportation and yet-to-be-resolved territorial disputes.
The concept of fishing rights and interests is also evolving. In particular, fishing has been conveniently used by fishermen, coast guard agencies and the Chinese government as a means to verify their contestation of sovereignty over disputed maritime territories. Fishing, a daily economic activity or a source of people’s livelihood, has become deeply intertwined with the nominal contestation of “sovereignty”. Fishing is thus becoming more “sovereignised”.
The South China Sea arbitration award (the Philippines versus China) issued recently has however considerable impact on the evolving concept of “sovereignisation” of fishing. Although the verdict is binding only on the Philippines and China pertaining to the South China Sea, its decision that the historic rights argument, of which fishing is a critical constituent, should be subsumed under treaty rights and obligations, has significantly affected China’s other maritime claims. However, fishing remains a key dimension of a state’s or government’s capability to deliver effective domestic governance. Cross-border issues arising from fishing therefore require interstate cooperation and collective activities to ensure effective management. In this context, fishing has entitled governments the efficacy to exercise two aspects of internal sovereignty—effective domestic governance and economic interdependence.
A worrying trend is Chinese fishermen’s assertion of nationalism and sovereignty in justifying their activities in the disputed waters. These are risky acts, leading to intensifying resource competition, and deterioration of the marine environment. Nevertheless, fishery disputes should not be taken lightly because even minor fishing run-ins could spark larger physical or military conflicts that engulf the whole region.
Đọc toàn văn bài báo (bản gốc tiếng Anh) tại Tseng Hui-Yi Katherine (2017) Fishing- A New Dimension to China_s Engagement in Maritime Issues (signed)
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Về tác giả: Katherine Tseng Hui-Yi ([email protected]) là Nghiên cứu viên cao cấp tại Viện Đông Á, Đại học Quốc gia Singapore. Bà đã hoàn thành khoá đào tạo Tiến sỹ khoa học pháp lý tại Đại học Wisconsin-Madison. Chủ đề nghiên cứu của bà là giải quyết tranh chấp thương mại quốc tế tại Tổ chức thương mại quốc tế, quản lý khủng hoảng và giải quyết tranh chấp trên biển tại khu vực Đông Á.