E.U. & U.S. Public Policy Forum US-TW-CH Relations

Exploration for Oil and Natural Gas in the East China Sea by “Two Chinas” and the Role of the U.S. and Japan

Author:Cheng-Yi Lin Research Fellow

Release Date:2017/10/26

Origin of Topic

  After the 1969 Emery Report, the Republic of China (ROC) government, a signatory to the 1958 UN Convention on the Law of Sea, promptly ratified the 1958 Continental Shelf Convention in August 1970. Consequently, the Chinese Petroleum Corporation (Taiwan) was able to secure contracts with U.S. oil corporations for joint exploration north of Taiwan to strengthen ROC’s claims to sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands. However, this exploration was repeatedly interrupted by the U.S. and Japanese governments. On the other hand, the People's Republic of China (PRC) not only succeeded the ROC as an active player in the exploration of oil and natural gas in the East China Sea with technical assistance from the U.S. but was also met with only minor opposition from other concerned parties. Although initially the U.S. and Japanese oil corporations joined in bidding for the oil projects of the China National Offshore Oil Company in the East China Sea, they withdrew later for various reasons, making the PRC the sole country able to drill for natural gas from wells in the East China Sea. However, since the PRC is not able to explore in waters surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands, so far the amount of gas produced falls far short of what the Emery Report predicted. This paper, in addition to analyzing Taiwan’s exploration process in the East China Sea, will also focus on mainland China’s exploration in the same region. Furthermore, this paper will discuss the role of the U.S. and Japan, so that the world could understand Taiwan’s position in relation to the turning point and the crux of the conflict surrounding the three parties—U.S., China, and Taiwan.(......more

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