JEAIL > Volume 11(1); 2018 > Articles
Research Paper
Published online: May 30, 2018

Historic or Historical? Lost in Translation of "li shi xing quan li" in the South China Sea Arbitration

Ran Guo
School of Foreign Languages, East China Normal University, Shanghai, P.R. China 200062.
Corresponding Author: rguo@fl.ecnu

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

In the South China Sea Arbitration, the Chinese term-"li shi xing quan li" was mistranslated into "historic rights short of title," regardless of the official English translation provided by Chinese government and preserved by international organizations. 'quan li' connotes a categorical meaning covering sovereignty and non-sovereignty rights, while "li shi xing" relates to claims and conduct historically before 1982. China's "li shi xing quan li" in the SCS developed with the history of the general category of historic rights-an umbrella concept connoting both exclusive historic title and non-exclusive historic sovereign rights. It included China's exclusive sovereignty over nansha qundao in the SCS and its non-exclusive sovereign rights in part of SCS. The Arbitral Tribunal's negligence of the conceptual difference led to uncertainty in China's maximum maritime entitlements in the SCS and reasonable doubt about its decision on the Philippines' Submissions 1 and 2.

Keywords : li shi xing quan li, Historic Rights, South China Sea Arbitration, China's EEZ/CS Act, UNCLOS

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