Joint Development in a Semi-Enclosed Sea: China’s Duty to Cooperate in Developing the Natural Resources of the South China Sea


China’s insistence on resolving maritime disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) via bilateral negotiations has prevented the formation of a successful joint development agreement in the region.  This Note argues that Part IX of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides a solution to this problem.  Specifically, this Note argues that the SCS is an “enclosed or semi-enclosed sea” under Part IX and that, because it is an “enclosed or semi-enclosed sea,” China is required to cooperate with other coastal states in developing the natural resources of the SCS.  This Note further argues that China’s insistence on bilateral negotiations violates this duty and that another coastal state could initiate binding arbitration to compel China to negotiate multilaterally.