Communist China is now claiming the 12 nautical-mile territorial limit around its artificially-enlarged islands in the Spratlys. Like the several other foreign states that have staked claims to some of the
Islands, China has garrisoned and fortified several
of the islands it claims. But by
enlarging them by several square miles, as I posted earlier this month, they
are thus expanding their claim over the potentially oil-rich waters of the South China Sea, as the 12-mile limit is based upon the
expanded territory of the islands.
Indeed, China, because it claims all of the Spratlys, just as it had previously seized the Paracel Islands, the sovereignty of which was disputed with Vietnam, now claims that all the international waters of the South China Sea fall within China’s 200-mile economic exclusionary zone. Such a claim would not only exclude oil exploration by the neighboring states with competing claims over the territory, but even fishing.
The principle of the freedom of the seas, which Americans first asserted successfully against the Barbary Pirates in the early Nineteenth Century, is one of the most significant contributions of the
to mankind. Freedom of the seas in international waters
has enabled travel and commerce for Americans and everyone else around the