Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress [October 22, 2012] [open pdf - 1MB]
"This report presents policy and oversight issues for Congress arising from (1) maritime territorial disputes involving China in the South China Sea (SCS) and East China Sea (ECS) and (2) an additional dispute over whether China has a right under international law to regulate U.S. and other foreign military activities in its 200-nautical-mile maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). […] Maritime territorial and EEZ disputes involving China in the SCS and ECS raise a number of policy and oversight issues for Congress, including the following: (1) the risk that the United States might be drawn into a crisis or conflict over a territorial dispute involving China, particularly since the United States has bilateral defense treaties with Japan and the Philippines; (2) the risk of future incidents between U.S. and Chinese ships and aircraft arising from U.S. military survey and surveillance activities in China's EEZ; (3) the impact of maritime territorial and EEZ disputes involving China on the overall debate on whether the United States should become a party to UNCLOS; (4) implications for U.S. arms sales and transfers to other countries in the region, particularly the Philippines, which currently has limited ability to monitor maritime activity in the SCS on a real-time basis, and relatively few modern ships larger than patrol craft in its navy or coast guard; (5) implications for the stationing and operations of U.S. military forces in the region, and for U.S. military procurement programs; (6) implications for interpreting the significance of China's rise as an economic and military power, particularly in terms of China's willingness to accept international norms and operate within an international rules-based order; (7) the impact on overall U.S. relations with China and other countries in the region; and (8) the effect on U.S. economic interests, including oil and gas exploration in the SCS and ECS by U.S. firms, and on international shipping through the SCS and ECS, which represents a large fraction of the world's seaborne trade. Decisions that Congress makes on these issues could substantially affect U.S. political and economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region and U.S. military operations in both the Asia-Pacific region and elsewhere."
CRS Report for Congress, R42784