The Chinese government announced Monday the official baseline for the territorial waters of the Diaoyu Islands and then covered the Diaoyu Islands in domestic weather forecasts Tuesday. These moves were a response to Japan's aim of "nationalizing" the Diaoyu Islands. This indicates that the dispute has reached the stage of official confrontation.
Announcing the baseline of territorial waters is the prerequisite to determine sea areas under national jurisdiction. In this way, we can make sure that 12 nautical miles outside the baseline of the territorial waters are considered our peripheral areas under China's sovereignty.
In accordance with China's laws, we can deny access to any foreign aircrafts, warships and individuals except innocuous foreign civilian vessels in these waters. Otherwise, it is an infringement of our territory, and we are entitled to resort to our domestic law for adjudication.
In addition, we can set an exclusive economic zone within 200 nautical miles of the baseline and continental shelf for no more than 350 nautical miles according to the Law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf. In these waters, foreign countries are forbidden to fish, develop oil and gas resources, carry out scientific exploration or build artificial facilities without our permission. As for the waters that overlap with our neighbors, we can determine the maritime boundary of the two sides through negotiations and consultations.
In fact, for disputed islands like the Diaoyu Islands, we need to consider both political and diplomatic factors as well as legal ones. If the territory is linked with no disputes, the country can freely exercise sovereignty, such as legislation, immigration, and construction of various facilities and even garrison. However, it could escalate to war if the above actions were taken over a disputed territory. Therefore, the two conflicting parties must remain restrained on this issue.
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