Natural Security Blog: Post

Lawfare: China’s Weapon of Choice in the South China Sea?

One of the issues you’re likely to read about more frequently is lawfare. Perhaps an unfamiliar term to some, lawfare is becoming a hot topic in considering U.S. policy toward the South China Sea – the subject of a new CNAS project that the natural security team has been working on.

Let’s begin with a definition. One of the first, penned by Charles Dunlap in 2001, was “the use of law as a weapon of war.” He later (helpfully) modified it to “the strategy of using – or misusing – law as a substitute for traditional military means to achieve an operational objective.”

Some people prefer to pare down the definition to only the misuse, or wrongful use, of the law, but I prefer the more neutral definition. Laws are exploited in many contexts; in some cases, I would argue, laws are intentionally designed with loopholes. Therefore, using the law to your advantage isn’t necessarily wrongful.

Now that we have a definition, what does lawfare have to do with military-to-military exchanges between the United States and China? Or natural security?

One of China’s “weapons” of choice in the South China Sea is the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The dispute is over permissible activities of U.S. (and other countries’) military forces within the waters China claims as its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). A country’s EEZ extends (with some exceptions and nuances) 200 nautical miles from its shores. The Law of the Sea preserves the right of the coastal state to exploit the natural resources of its EEZ. Foreign vessels operating in a coastal state’s EEZ are subject to only very limited, vague restrictions such as “peaceful purposes,” “due regard,” and “rights and duties of the Coastal State.”

The U.S. military is not an infrequent visitor to China’s EEZ, whether by combat ship, survey ship, or a plane on a reconnaissance mission. China objects to these activities. As Shen Dingli, Director of the Centre of American Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University, explains “China considers that international law only allows innocent passage for military vessels (in the EEZ), not activities that could be considered to have a military purpose.” The United States, on the other hand, considers any interference with American vessels in China’s EEZ to be an obstruction of the freedom of navigation.

China has strong natural resource interests in the South China Sea. Because of the potentially vast deposits in the region, China has become more territorial. In August, China sent a submersible to plant a flag on the ocean floor, making a symbolic claim and showing the world it had the capability to reach the floor. Expect to see more from us on this issue as the legal battle in this region unfolds. Lawfare isn’t a new subject but the likelihood of China using it in a natural resource-rich region is high.

China

7 comments

marc jacobs eyeglasses is

marc jacobs eyeglasses is correctional eyesight or eye protection and make simple optical device. Composed by lens and frames. Vision correction use glasses have myopia discount marc jacobs sunglasses and farsightedness glasses, marc jacobs and astigmatism glasses four. Protect eyes with glasses have bond and basto protection lens, the degree of FengJing and fairy dean Laura cindylaura sunglasses, etc. marc jacobs sunglasses is both eye protection tools, it is a kind of hairdressing decorations.

marc jacobs eyeglasses is

marc jacobs eyeglasses is correctional eyesight or eye protection and make simple optical device. Composed by lens and frames. Vision correction use glasses have myopia discount marc jacobs sunglasses and farsightedness glasses, marc jacobs and astigmatism glasses four. Protect eyes with glasses have bond and basto protection lens, the degree of FengJing and fairy dean Laura cindylaura sunglasses, etc. marc jacobs sunglasses is both eye protection tools, it is a kind of hairdressing decorations.

marc jacobs eyeglasses is

marc jacobs eyeglasses is correctional eyesight or eye protection and make simple optical device. Composed by lens and frames. Vision correction use glasses have myopia discount marc jacobs sunglasses and farsightedness glasses, marc jacobs and astigmatism glasses four. Protect eyes with glasses have bond and basto protection lens, the degree of FengJing and fairy dean Laura cindylaura sunglasses, etc. marc jacobs sunglasses is both eye protection tools, it is a kind of hairdressing decorations.

tiffany and co Diamond Heart

tiffany and co Diamond Heart Pendants Classictiffany,tiffany & co Earrings For Any Occasion Classictiffany, Tiffany Jewellery Engagement Rings Appease Your Partner, Tiffany Jewellery Jewellery - The Perfect Match For You,Something About The Replica Tiffany UK Jewelery, Tiffany UK Announces Details of New Jewelry Venture,Tiffany sale Jewelry Has Long Been The Perfect Crystallization of Fashion And Chic,The Online Alter Tiffany sale Necklace Unfilled in a Concise Time,

tiffany and co Diamond Heart

tiffany and co Diamond Heart Pendants Classictiffany,tiffany & co Earrings For Any Occasion Classictiffany, Tiffany Jewellery Engagement Rings Appease Your Partner, Tiffany Jewellery Jewellery - The Perfect Match For You,Something About The Replica Tiffany UK Jewelery, Tiffany UK Announces Details of New Jewelry Venture,Tiffany sale Jewelry Has Long Been The Perfect Crystallization of Fashion And Chic,The Online Alter Tiffany sale Necklace Unfilled in a Concise Time,

Add your comment

CNAS retains the right to delete comments that include words that incite violence; are predatory, hateful, or intended to intimidate or harass; or degrade people on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability. In summary, don't be a jerk.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br> <hr><blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.