The legality of military activities in foreign exclusive economic zones (“eezs”) is an important issue in both the theory and practice of the law of the sea. It involves the interests, not only of every State, but also of the international community as a whole in eezs. It has been a subject of controversy during the negotiations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“losc” or the “Convention”) and substantial divergences of views still exists today in State practice and academic writing. Indeed, a conclusion has yet to be reached from the debate which has centred upon the interpretation and application of the relevant provisions of the losc. The present article explores the following five issues from a positivist perspective: firstly, whether a State has the right to conduct military activities in foreign eezs; secondly, what the legal framework is for military activities in foreign eezs; thirdly, how to determine the legality of military activities in foreign eezs; fourthly, the basis and procedures to resolve conflicts over the attribution of residual rights in terms of military activities in foreign eezs; fifthly, the lex ferenda concerning military activities in foreign eezs.
The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS or the Convention) is one of the most important accomplishments in the development of international law in the twentieth century. As a comprehensive compilation of the modern law of the sea, the UNCLOS not only codifies numerous customary rules of law of the sea, but also progressively develops the treaty rules of law of the sea. Especially the three bodies established by the UNCLOS, namely the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), have played an important role in facilitating the implementation of the UNCLOS and promoting stability and development of the international marine order. As a member of the big family of the States Parties to the UNCLOS, China has been faithfully fulfilling the obligations of the UNCLOS, fully engaged in the work of the three bodies and actively contributing its solutions and wisdom. In the process of implementing the UNCLOS, China has formed its own practices and policies.