UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

Why China stands to gain from freedom of navigation rights

Beijing frets about transits by Western naval vessels. But those rights are in its interest as a major naval power with global maritime interests.

Recent press reports indicate that the government of China has protested against the transit of United States, French and British naval vessels through the waters surrounding the islands it occupies in the South China Sea and through the Taiwan Strait.

As a result, commentators have called for the development of a rules-based order for naval operations in East Asia and South-east Asia in order to minimise the risk of armed conflict.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2019, with the headline 'Why China stands to gain from freedom of navigation rights'. Print Edition | Subscribe