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In recent years Freedom of Navigation (fon) operations have become a regular feature of US naval operations in the South China Sea, drawing attention to a once obscure national security initiative to ensure free and open uses of the seas. This contribution to the volume mines declassified US government correspondence and, in particular, a major National Security Council Study completed by the administration of President Carter, to explore the US rationale for creation of the fon program and assess its early implementation. The chapter helps form a clearer image of the creation of the fon program and how it was implemented in its first half-decade.

In: Cooperation and Engagement in the Asia-Pacific Region
In: Jurisdiction over Ships
In: Science, Technology, and New Challenges to Ocean Law
In: Ocean Law and Policy
In: Challenges of the Changing Arctic
In: Changes in the Arctic Environment and the Law of the Sea


While Beijing has solidified nearly all its land boundaries, it seeks to enhance its geostrategic and economic position at sea through a series of baseline and territorial sea claims that maximize its sovereignty at the expense of neighboring states. While China signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) at the time of its adoption on December 10, 1982, and ratified it in June 1996, Beijing’s laws and state practice are at variance with virtually every standard set forth in the treaty for the establishment of baselines. This paper evaluates Chinese maritime claims against Beijing’s legal obligations for baselines in UNCLOS. China has established its maritime claims through a series of legislation and proclamations that often raise as many questions as they resolve. These claims typically are disassociated from the rules of international law as reflected in UNCLOS. When the maritime claims are connected to UNCLOS they represent critical exceptions or deviations that make them incompatible with accepted norms or that apply the exceptions in a routine manner that tends to swallow the general rule, or that reference existing legal terminology with newly created nomenclature that creates ambiguity.

Open Access
In: Peaceful Maritime Engagement in East Asia and the Pacific Region
In: Ocean Law Debates
In: Freedom of Seas, Passage Rights and the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention