Beyond Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea
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Beyond Territorial Disputes in the South China Sea

Legal Frameworks for the Joint Development of Hydrocarbon Resources

Edited by Robert Beckman, Ian Townsend-Gault, Clive Schofield, Tara Davenport and Leonardo Bernard

This highly informative and up-to-date book brings together expert scholars in law of the sea to explore the legal and geopolitical aspects of the South China Sea disputes and provide an in-depth examination on the prospects of joint development in the South China Sea.
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Chapter 11: Factors conducive to joint development in Asia – lessons learned for the South China Sea

Legal Frameworks for the Joint Development of Hydrocarbon Resources

Robert Beckman, Clive Schofield, Ian Townsend-Gault, Tara Davenport and Leonardo Bernard


Joint development in the South China Sea has been suggested as a solution to the Spratly Islands disputes since the 1980s. China was one of the earliest proponents of ‘setting aside the dispute and pursuing joint development’. The South China Sea Workshops on Managing Potential Conflicts in the South China Sea discussed joint development but ran into a number of obstacles, notably because of longstanding sensitivities over sovereignty issues and conflicting maritime claims. Consequently, the Workshops sought to focus on less contentious issues such as cooperation on marine biodiversity and the safety of navigation. Through this non-confrontational, non-binding and incremental approach, the Workshops were instrumental in building trust and confidence among the claimants and in getting them to consider co-operative measures in areas of common interest. As alluded to in the Introduction to this book, the debate surrounding the South China Sea is evolving to the point where a meaningful discussion on implementing joint development of hydrocarbon resources is not only possible but increasingly critical. Indeed, there are compelling reasons why the claimants should begin discussion on how to set aside their sovereignty and maritime disputes and pursue joint development.

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