State Practice in Deep Seabed Mining: The Case of the People’s Republic of China

Zou, Keyuan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2868-4948 (2018) State Practice in Deep Seabed Mining: The Case of the People’s Republic of China. In: Sustainable Ocean Resource Governance: Deep Sea Mining, Marine Energy and Submarine Cables. Brill, Leiden, pp. 187-203. ISBN 9789004360266

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Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the international deep seabed area is named “the Area”, which, together with its resources, is the common heritage of mankind.1 No State should claim or exercise sovereignty or sovereign rights over any part of the Area or its resources, nor should any State or natural or legal person appropriate any part thereof.2
Since deep seabed areas beyond the limit of national jurisdiction have been treated as the common heritage of mankind, all activities there are governed by the international regime created under the UNCLOS. The International Seabed Authority (ISA) was accordingly established on 16 November 1994, upon the entry into force of the UNCLOS. The ISA has its headquarters in Kingston,
Jamaica and functions as the representative of the whole of mankind for the management of deep seabed mining. The ISA is an autonomous international organization under the UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the 1994 Agreement),3 and through it States Parties to the UNCLOS can, in accordance with the regime for the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (the Area) established in Part XI and the 1994 Agreement, organize and control activities in the Area, particularly with a view to administering the resources of the Area.4 Deep seabed mining,once described as ‘a remote possibility’,5 has gradually become a more realistic proposition, as can be seen from the increased activities carried out by States
concerned. In State practice, China’s activities and contributions to the deep seabed mining regime merits closer examination.

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