I. Sustainable Marine Development Strategy
China has a population of more than 1.2 billion, and its land natural resources per capita are lower than the world's average. Official statistics show that China has a land area of 9.6 million sq km, making it the third-biggest country in the world. However, the land area per capita is only 0.008 sq km, much lower than the world's average of 0.3 sq km per capita. In recent years China's average annual amount of freshwater resources has been 2,800 billion cu m, ranking sixth in the world; but the amount of freshwater resources per capita is only one fourth of the world's average. China is rich in land mineral resources, but the amount per capita is less than half the figure per capita worldwide. As a major developing country with a long coastline, China, therefore, must take exploitation and protection of the ocean as a long-term strategic task before it can achieve the sustainable development of its national economy.
China boasts a mainland coastline of more than 18,000 km. There are more than 5,000 islands in China's territorial waters, each with an area of more than 500 sq m, and the islands' coastlines total more than 14,000 km. China also exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction over the vast continental shelves and exclusive economic zones (EEZs), as defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Located in medium and low latitudes, China's sea areas have comparatively advantageous natural environmental and resource conditions. Some 20,278 species of sea creatures have been verified there. The fishing grounds that have been developed in China's sea areas cover 818,000 square nautical miles. The shallow seas and tidelands have a total area of 13.33 million ha, of which 2.6 million ha of water surface are suitable for the raising of aquatic products in terms of the current scientific level. So far, 938,000 ha are being utilized for this purpose. Scattered in these offshore waters are more than 30 sedimentation basins, with a total area of nearly 700,000 sq km. It is estimated that there are about 25 billion tons of oil resources and 8.4 trillion cu m of natural gas in these basins. More than 160 bays are spread along China's coasts, plus the deep-water stretches of coast with a total length of several hundred kilometers. Many spots along the coastline are suitable for constructing harbors and developing marine transportation. There are more than 1,500 tourist, scenic and recreational spots favorable for developing marine tourism. In addition, China's offshore areas abound in seawater resources and regenerable marine energy resources.
The China Ocean Agenda 21 formulated by China in 1996 put forward a sustainable development strategy for China's marine programs. The basic ideas of this strategy are as follows: To effectively safeguard the state's marine rights and interests, rationally develop and utilize marine resources, give positive protection to the marine eco-environment and realize the sustainable utilization of marine resources and the marine environment as well as the coordinated development of the work in this field. In this regard China abides by the following basic policies and principles:
--Safeguarding the new international marine order and the state's marine rights and interests. In February 1992 the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) of China adopted the Law of the People's Republic of China on Its Territorial Seas and Adjacent Zones. As China's important law in this particular field, it provides a legal basis for the country to exercise sovereignty over its territorial seas and jurisdiction over the adjacent zones and safeguard the state's safety and marine rights and interests. To uphold the new international marine legal system and the state's marine rights and interests, the NPC Standing Committee approved the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in May 1996, and solemnly stated: "In accordance with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the People's Republic of China enjoys sovereignty and jurisdiction over the EEZs and continental shelves up to 200 nautical miles off its coasts. Together with the countries with opposite coasts or its neighboring countries, China shall, through consultation and on the basis of international laws and the principle of fairness, fix the dividing lines of each country's marine jurisdiction. China has sovereignty over all archipelagoes and islands listed in the Law of the People's Republic of China on Its Territorial Seas and Adjacent Zones. Regarding disputes over marine issues between China and its neighboring countries, the Chinese government shall, in view of the vital interests bearing on peace and development, stand for their settlement through friendly consultation. With regard to issues that cannot be solved for the time being, China stands for pigeonholing them and for strengthened cooperation and joint development.
--Overall planning for marine development and control. China will strengthen the comprehensive development and administration of its coastal zones, rationally develop and protect the offshore areas, actively participate in the development and utilization of international seabeds and oceans, and exploit the coastal land and sea areas in a unified way in order to gradually form coastal economic belts and marine economic zones, thus making the coastal areas more prosperous and developed.
--Rationally utilizing marine resources and promoting the coordinated development of the marine industries. China adopts the policy of placing equal stress on development and protection, to guarantee the sustainable utilization of marine resources. It will comprehensively develop and utilize its marine resources, continue to explore the oceans for new resources, make use of new technologies, and form and develop new marine industries to promote the sustained, rapid and healthy development of the marine economy.
--Simultaneously planning and implementing the development of marine resources and the protection of the marine environment. China will work out a program for the coordinated development of marine resources and the protection of the marine eco-environment and, in line with the principles of "putting prevention first, combining prevention with control" and "making the causer of pollution responsible for treating it," improve the monitoring, surveillance, law enforcement and management of the marine environment. Stress will be laid on strengthening the control of land-sourced pollutants and implementing the system for controlling the total quantity of pollutants, in order to prevent the marine environment degenerating.
--Reinforcing oceanographic technology research and development. China will pay attention to basic research and marshal all necessary forces to tackle key oceanographic problems, develop marine high-techs, and constantly improve the technological levels of marine development and services. It will speed up the promotion and utilization of advanced and applicable technologies, and consistently narrow the differences between the regions in terms of the technological level of marine development. Furthermore, the discipline of oceanography will be further emphasized in institutions of higher learning, including vocational education, and oceanographic personnel of various levels will be trained. At the same time, oceanographic knowledge will be spread among the general public.
--Setting up a comprehensive marine management system. China will continue to improve its marine function zoning and planning and strengthen the scientific management of marine development and protection, as well as the utilization of sea areas. Experiments in the comprehensive management of the coastal zones will be actively carried out, and a comprehensive control system will be gradually put in place.
--Actively participating in international cooperation in the field of marine development. China will conscientiously fulfill the obligations defined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, actively take part in international marine affairs, promote international and regional cooperation and exchanges related to oceanic matters, and contribute its full share to the prosperity and development of the world's work in this field.