China as a Maritime Power and the Interpretation of Innocent Passage

Author: Christine Bianco
Published: 31.05.2022
Maritime powers have been instrumental in shaping the development of the Law of the Sea (LoS). While not uncontested, their inclusion and interpretation of key concepts into the LoS become dominant over time. As a result, expectations increase for other states to accept these or risk being cast as counter-normative actors. Nevertheless, the dominant interpretation of innocent passage, a pivotal component of the LoS, has been consistently contested by emerging powers like China. Although there is an assumption that as countries become maritime powers they are likely to prefer a broader interpretation of innocent passage, this neglects the historical context…