The funny shape of the East China Sea "co-development" zone

Source: FYJS , Yomiuri

The funny shape of the co-development zone in East China Sea recently nogotiated between China and Japan has puzzled many. I have speculated some reason in the choice of location (e.g. as far from Diaoyu / Senkaku as possible, largely on the disputed zone but includes a bit of the area west of Japan claim line to show goodwill, etc.) But the shape is still mysterious.

One theory (according Yomiuri - in its report also said explicitly now that Longjing Asunaro is not within the area) is that this area is chosen so that it satisfies two conditions
1) as far north as possible (as I speculated)
2) but avoid any potential dispute with Korea (!!!)

One may ask, what does Korea have anything to do with this. The map above shows (in white outline) the area stipulated by the February 1974 agreement between (South) Korea and Japan, as their codevelopment zone. Coordiantes of the polygon corners are:

  • Point 1 32°57.0'N 127°41.1'E
  • Point 2 32°53.4'N 127°36.3'E
  • Point 3 32°46.2'N 127°27.8'E
  • Point 4 32°33.6'N 127°13.1'E
  • Point 5 32°10.5'N 126°51.5'E
  • Point 6 30°46.2'N 125°55.5'E
  • Point 7 30°33.3'N 126°00.8'E
  • Point 8 30°18.2'N 126°05.5'E
  • Point 9 28°36.0'N 127°38.0'E
  • Point 10 29°19.0'N 128°00.0'E
  • Point 11 29°43.0'N 128°38.0'E
  • Point 12 30°19.0'N 129°09.0'E
  • Point 13 30°54.0'N 129°04.0'E
  • Point 14 31°13.0'N 128°50.0'E
  • Point 15 31°47.0'N 128°50.0'E
  • Point 16 31°47.0'N 128°14.0'E
  • Point 17 32°12.0'N 127°50.0'E
  • Point 18 32°27.0'N 127°56.0'E
  • Point 19 32°27.0'N 128°18.0'E
  • Point 20 32°57.0'N 128°18.0'E
  • Point 1 32°57.0'N 127°41.1'E

The problem is, in 1974, China was still a closed country, far behind the bamboo curtain. This area overlaps with the Chinese claimed line (based on the Ocean trough, and 200 nautical miles -- shown in the map above). To make real progress and not complicate the problem it thus makes sense to defer any discussion that may involve another new interest party (which is also highly nationalistic).

  • update: according to Mark Valencia's study, China had protested loudly in 1974.
  • "On February 4, 1974, China protested loudly:

  • The Chinese Government holds that, according to the principle
    that the continental shelf is the natural extension of the continent,
    it stands to reason that the question of how to divide the continental
    shelf in the East China Sea should be decided by China and the
    other countries concerned through consultations. But now the
    Japanese Government and the South Korean authorities have
    marked off a so-called . . . “joint development zone” . . . behind
    China’s back. This is an infringement on China’s sovereignty

p.s. It is a bit puzzling for me to understand why Japan had agreed to such a zone, as the south portion of the polygon extends far south of Cheju Island (or even Huang yan reef, which is the weaker version of 'okinotori' for Korea). It actually extended south of Kyushu and as far south as the latitude of Okinawa.


传中日顾虑韩国因素 放弃开发龙井油田









Note Yumiuri had a strange (and wrong) label of Sino-Korea median line。 (1) a China-Korea line would run North-South wise instead of East-West wise, (2) there is no median line agreed at between China and Korea. what is relevant is the 200 nautical line as indicated in the first map of this post.

(2008年6月20日14時43分 読売新聞)

Another Yomiuri East China Sea Map for Martin J. Frid… Wait, It Gets Better

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