Monday, 4 July 2011

South Korea to submit claim to East China Sea

South Korea has decided to submit a claim to an extended portion of the continental shelf in the East China Sea, the government said on 3rd July, risking rekindling a dispute with China and Japan, who also claim the territory.

South Korean news sources reported on Sunday that Korea will submit a claim to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), arguing that its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) stretches beyond the currently claimed 200 nautical miles.

According to the UN Law of the Sea, countries wishing to delimit their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles have to submit information on the claim to the CLCS.

Korea will claim that its continental shelf stretches to the Okinawa Trough in the East China Sea, however China has also claimed that the Okinawa Trough is part of its natural continental shelf extension.

Korea made a preliminary submission to the UN CLCS in May 2009, claiming 19,000 square meters outside of its 200 nautical mile sea. According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, the claimed territory is located in the Korea-Japan Joint Development Zone, south of Jeju island.

An unnamed government official was quoted by Yonhap as saying South Korea expected China to follow with an official claim of its own.

"Final settlement of continental shelf territory determination will be made through mutual demarcation between the two countries," the government official said.

"The government is participating in the negotiation under the goal of securing as large an exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as possible," he said.

China also claims Ieo-Do, an island which lies in the overlapping part of the two countries' EEZs, and on which Korea has an observation station.

Parts of the East China Sea are claimed by China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea, and the region is thought to contain huge natural gas and oil deposits.

South Korea is scheduled to hold separate working-level meetings with China and Japan to discuss issues on the sea border demarcation later this year.

Sources: China Post, Reuters, Yonhap

For more information, please see the Menas Borders website, here.

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