We have stories on three major topics this week. China’s Maritime Police Law has come in for negative comment in the West. Here, the author explains why China’s law is like those of most nations and complies with all United Nations resolutions.
On February 1, China’s “Maritime Police Law” was formally implemented. As a domestic law, the “Maritime Police Law” has attracted close attention and strong reactions from the media in some Western and even neighbouring countries. Some people questioned the general vagueness of the maritime jurisdiction of China’s maritime police. The South China Sea inevitably involves some maritime areas that other countries have also claimed. The claim that China’s law enforcement in these maritime areas violates international law is typical “bullying” behaviour. These arguments are very deceptive. It is necessary for us to clarify the truth and the law.
Before discussing the law, we must first sort out the origin of “advocating overlapping sea areas”. As far as China is concerned, based on the sovereignty of the South China Sea islands, China owns internal waters, territorial waters, contiguous zones, exclusive economic zones, and continental shelves in the South China Sea, by historical rights.
In the 1970s, with the rapid development of the law of the sea, some countries along the coast of the South China Sea also began to claim maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, forming overlapping maritime areas with China. According to international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982, coastal states have jurisdiction and law enforcement powers over different sea areas. For potential conflicts of law enforcement powers in sea areas, the principle only stipulates that the exercise of rights shall consider the rights of other countries.
For this reason, countries stipulate the scope of law enforcement sea areas in their domestic laws. Take the coastal countries of the South China Sea as an example. Vietnam’s Maritime Police Law stipulates that “Vietnamese Coast Guard shall carry out law enforcement activities in the waters under the jurisdiction of Vietnam”. The Philippine Maritime Police Act also uses “jurisdictional maritime areas” to summarize the scope of law enforcement. It is not wrong for China’s “Maritime Police Law” to generalize law enforcement sea areas as jurisdictional sea areas. It is in full compliance with international law and general international practice. But some countries and the media use this to discredit China, which is completely “double standards.”
Others say that international law prohibits the use of force unless authorized by the UN Security Council or in self-defence. The provisions on the use of force in China’s “Maritime Police Law” cannot target foreign ships and personnel in the South China Sea. However, he use of force in law enforcement is different from the “force” prohibited by the Charter of the United Nations. It is essentially the maritime police behaviour of coastal states in accordance with their domestic laws. In fact, a little research will reveal that the use of force in law enforcement has long been confirmed by international law and practice.
For example, Article 22 of the 1982 “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea” concerning the conservation and management of fish stocks stipulates that “the use of force shall not exceed the what is necessary according to the circumstances.” Most international treaties and documents have similar provisions. Some documents also set restrictions on the use of force, clarifying that the use of force is legal in situations where maritime law enforcement is blocked, the safety of law enforcement personnel is threatened, or when violent crimes at sea are combated, as long as specific procedures are followed, and the necessary limits are not exceeded.
Most coastal states have passed legislation authorizing maritime law enforcement forces to use force. Countries such as Malaysia, South Korea, and the United States did just that. Vietnam’s “Maritime Police Law” is even more clear that armaments be fired in situations such as serious threats to life and safety. While China’s “Maritime Police Law” authorizes law enforcement by force, it also makes detailed regulations on the use of different weapons at the operational level, which enhances the predictability of law enforcement. At the same time, this law also sets up law enforcement disclosure, law enforcement process record, law enforcement fault accountability system, etc., to strengthen the supervision and accountability of the use of force. In fact, China has always done this. For a long time, China’s maritime law enforcement forces have never aggressed foreign fishermen in normal operations, let alone any measures that endanger their lives.
Relevant neighbouring countries should take this opportunity to meet and cooperate with China to maintain law and order in the South China Sea.
In our second story, we see the inter-generational debate that occurs in many countries. ‘We young people have it tough today’ is one position. ‘We had it a lot tougher than you’ say the older generation.
Recently, a video entitled “Young People Trapped” has attracted attention. The interesting thing about the video is that it provides a vivid description of some of the subtle and specific difficulties encountered by contemporary young people. The author concludes at the end of the video: “For many people, life is no longer a sprint to change fate and class, but a long climb.” Worrying about falling has become the anxiety of young people.
Some people reflect that contemporary young people have confidence in the future of the country, but lack confidence in their own prospects, and feel that they are “trapped.”
“Young People Trapped” attempts to portray the “general conditions” of young people in the middle class, but it is one-sided. The saying that young people are “trapped” carries a certain social reality. But on the other hand, the statement that young people are “trapped” is also defined by the author’s own vision and mentality, thus both simplifying and magnifying the problem. Yes, society should pay more attention to the problems encountered by young people and help them solve them effectively. At the same time, young people also need to understand themselves and society more accurately.
“Young People Trapped”, while describing specific problems that plague a generation, also romanticized the lives of the previous generation. It seems that the parents are full of all kinds of opportunities and possibilities despite the lack of material, while the young people of this generation have more than enough food and clothing, but the relative lack of enjoyment is serious, and they lack opportunities.
Nowadays, it is often said that the fierce competition for further studies and work is stressful. In fact, the competition for the college entrance examination in the previous generation was far more intense than it is now. Most of the new problems encountered by young people today are not more difficult to overcome and solve than in those days. Some young people trap themselves in small spaces. Many problems are mentioned in the video. The solution to these problems not only requires social efforts, but also the self-expectations and self-struggle of young people. Today there are far more opportunities and possibilities to overcome these negative mentalities than in the past.
There is no doubt that the living conditions of contemporary Chinese young people have generally improved, with unprecedented platforms and possibilities. The deepening of globalization and China’s rapid development have provided young people with more opportunities: the development opportunities that Chinese young people have are also rare in the world.
In fact, in modern middle-class society, any child born in an ordinary family will generally need to experience about 15 years of struggle to overcome various difficulties and obtain a relatively stable life. This is common in all countries. Today, young people don’t really need to envy the opportunities of their parents. When they were young, they changed their lives through struggle and created a broader space for the growth of other individuals in society and the country. This generation of young people also needs to experience such struggles and efforts.
China is moving towards a great future and is also giving young people the possibility to surpass their troubles and anxiety. The society should take care of the specific situation of young people with the greatest enthusiasm and kindness and create conditions for them to go beyond “trapping.” At the same time, young people also need to use their courage and strength to use their creative spirit to break out of the “trapped” situation and move towards a broad future where they are not “trapped”.
(The author is a professor at Peking University)
The Asian-targeted shooting in Atlanta on March 16th, reminded this writer that Asians have long been the target of discrimination and attack in the USA.
The Atlanta shooting is a typical American tragedy. U.S. polls found that one out of every four Americans witnessed or experienced discrimination against Asians. Crimes against Asia are frequently committed in many Western countries. The Atlanta shooting is just the tip of the iceberg. Due to the impact of the pandemic, discrimination against Asian Americans has attracted attention. But the fact is that long before the epidemic, the United States had a history of discriminating against by law.
In the early 1850s, the United States had its gold rush. Many Chinese were taken to the United States for cheap labour. However, as the amount of gold decreased and the life of miners became increasingly difficult, the Chinese gradually became competitors of local labour, and friction between the two sides increased.
In the 1870s, these frictions became explicit discrimination, and politicians also joined the ranks of demonizing Chinese. This eventually led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. The bill prohibited the entry of Chinese labourers and restriced the possibility of re-entry of labourers who had already entered China.
The “Chinese Exclusion Act” was the first restrictive bill in the United States targeting certain ethnic groups. It is also the only chapter in the U.S. Federal Code where “Exclude Chinese” is written. The bill lasted until 1943, when it was replaced by the Magnuson Act, but at the same time it maintained the annual immigration quota of 105 Chinese, and it was not completely abolished until 1965.
In addition to targeting the Chinese, the United States also has a history of targeting other Asians.
For example, during World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing the military to plan war zones in the United States and imprisoning more than 100,000 Japanese expatriates living in the United States to concentration camps to prevent them from ” Collaborating with the enemy”.
Only in 1988 did the then President, Ronald Reagan, officially apologise.