More on the Legal Implications of the Impeccable Naval Incident

Professor James Kraska of the Naval War College makes an astute legal analysis of the recent incident in the South China Sea.

China's government is pushing a much broader and more assertive definition of the legal concept of the "Exclusive Economic Zone" off its shores than the general international understanding permits:

Beijing is now attempting to renovate some of the law's most basic and widely accepted terms, in a destabilizing effort that risks conflict. By asserting that foreign states only enjoy the right of innocent passage in what China refers to as the "special economic zone," Beijing is making a sophomoric misstatement of the plain letter of the law, mixing the terms and rules applicable to the regime of the territorial sea with those applicable in the exclusive economic zone. A few other states hold similar interpretations, but China is the most powerful and vociferous advocate for upsetting traditional notions of freedom of navigation and overflight.