From Clash of Vision to Power Struggle: The US, China, and Freedom of Navigation
The system of law of the sea was fundamentally established and operated based on the principle of mare liberum, freedom of the sea, which meant that the sea was open for states to freely navigate and fish (Klein, 2005: 05). The idea was generated by Grotius in the 17th century (Churchill & Lowe 1999) and is still being respected. More importantly, the freedom of navigation can be considered as “one of the pillars of the law of the seas and was at the origins of modern international law” (Wolfrum 2014). The scope of the norm, however, usually provokes controversy.
This article indicates that, based on examining their practice encountering with recent disputes in the South China Sea , the two major maritime powers of the world, China and the U.S., are unlikely to share the same view on the issue.