JEAIL > Volume 6(1); 2013 > Articles
Research Paper
Published online: May 30, 2013

The UNCLOS and the US-China Hegemonic Competition over the South China Sea

Kamrul Hossain
Northern Institute for Environmental & Minority Law, Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland.
PO Box 122, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Fin-96101 Rovaniemi, Finland.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ 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.


The South China Sea is a semi-enclosed sea with a complex set of territorial claims by a number of Southeast Asian nations and China being the dominant claimant country. The United States is not a party to such claims. However, the US has great concerns pertaining to peace and stability of the region as far as freedom of navigation in the SCS is concerned, which has significant repercussions for its strategic interests. In addition to the utilization of the SCS as an important international trade route, the US is also committed to protect the interests of its allies in the region, as well as those of its companies involved in offshore hydrocarbon activities. In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attack, the dynamics of a new world order push the US to strengthen its presence in the region in order to combat any security threats against its interests. This article investigates China-US relations in the SCS and highlights the law of the sea prescriptions that facilitate the understanding of the legal nature of the tensions between China and the US.

Keywords: UNCLOS, South China Sea, US-China Conflict, U-shaped Line, Strategic Partner, Security Interest

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