An in-depth examination of the law and geopolitics of China’s maritime disputes and their implications for the rules of the international law of the sea.
China’s Law of the Sea is the first comprehensive study of the law and geopolitics of China’s maritime disputes. It provides a rigorous empirical account of whether and how China is changing “the rules” of international order—specifically, the international law of the sea.
Conflicts over specific rules lie at the heart of the disputes, which are about much more than sovereignty over islands and rocks in the South and East China Seas. Instead, the main contests concern the strategic maritime space associated with those islands. To consolidate control over this vital maritime space, China’s leaders have begun to implement “China’s law of the sea”: building domestic legal institutions, bureaucratic organizations, and a naval and maritime law enforcement apparatus to establish China’s preferred maritime rules on the water and in the diplomatic arena.
Isaac B. Kardon examines China’s laws and policies to defend, exploit, study, administer, surveil, and patrol disputed waters. He also considers other claimants’ reactions to these Chinese practices, because other states must acquiesce for China’s preferences to become international rules. China’s maritime disputes offer unique insights into the nature and scope of China’s challenge to international order.
Isaac B. Kardon (孔适海) is assistant professor in the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the Naval War College. He researches and writes on China's maritime disputes, China's global port development and overseas basing, and China-Pakistan relations. He teaches Chinese politics and foreign policy. Kardon's book, China's Law of the Sea: The New Rules of Maritime Order (Yale, 2023) tackles the question of whether and how China is "changing the rules" in the maritime domain. His work on ports appears in International Security, Security Studies, and the Naval War college Review. He studied Mandarin at Peking University, Tsinghua University, National Taiwan Normal University, and Hainan University.