On the afternoon of April 15, 2016, Captain Tian Shichen, staff member at the Chinese Ministry of National Defense gave a lecture at the Yenching Academy on “The Freedom of Navigation in International Law and Its Implication for the South China Sea”. Captain Tian Shichen coveered topics such as the freedom of navigation, concurrent evolution of the law of the sea, navigational rights and limitations and their implication for the South China Sea.
Captain Tian referred to Montesquieu’s interpretation of liberty inThe Spirits of Lawsand illustrated the oldest and most important usse of sea navigation. Then he transitioned into talking about the development of the LOS from the early seventeen century up to now. After interpreting navigational rights and limitations under International Law, particularly regarding of zonal and functional jurisdiction, Captain Tian Shichen remarked that it was also crucial to understand innocent passage in the territorial sea and transit passage in international straits. He also explained freedom of navigation in the EEZ, international obligations of flag states and implication for the South China Sea.
After his lecture, Captain Tian Shichen opened up the floor for questions and engaged in an in-depth discussion with the audience. Students from China, Australia, the US and other countries asked a variety of questions including how China defines the nine-dash line, legal interpretioon of UNCLOS, and the definition of militarization in international law.
About the Speaker:
Captain Tian Shichen, the staff member at the Chinese Ministry of National Defense where he is in charge of emergency management and media relations. He has served in various operational, legal and academic positions with different units of People’s Liberation Army and Navy, and with the Ministry of National Defense. Captain Tian graduated from PLA Foreign Language University in 1996 majored in English. He obtained his first LLM in Military Law from PLA Xi’an Politics Academy in 2002 and his second LLM in Public International Law from the University of Nottingham, UK, in 2014. He is a 2013 Chevening Scholar sponsored by UK FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) as well as a participant of the 2014 public international law summer course hosted by Hague Academy of International Law. Captain Tian’s interests focus on the international law of sea, international humanitarian law and international criminal law, areas in which he has numerous publications.