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·Liu Nanlai

Liu Nanlai, male, Han nationality, born in May, 1933, is a native of Danyang, Jiangsu Province and a member of the Communist Party of China. He graduated from Moscow State University, department of law with a vice doctorate in 1961. He is a researcher and PhD student advisor with the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; he is vice-chairman of the Chinese Society of International Law, chief editor of the Chinese Yearbook of International Law, executive director of the China Society of Ocean Law. His academic specialties are international law, international ocean law and the international human rights act. Since 1992, he has enjoyed a special allowance awarded by the State Council.



Endure Great Hardships in Pioneering Work, and Devote Oneself to the Cause of Chinese International Law



Liu Nanlai, a researcher of International Law Research Center of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was elected as Member of the Honor Department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in August, 2006, because of his outstanding achievements in the research field of international law. He is a member of the Honor Department at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. I am lucky to have this opportunity to look back on his life and academic career with him.



Jiangnan Talent Returns Home after Studying Abroad, and He is Determined to Devote Himself to Research the Law all of His Life



There have been many talents in the regions south of the Yangtze River since ancient times. Teacher Liu was born in Danyang of Jiangsu in May, 1933. Danyang is a beautiful and rich land, but nobody can read intently in the flames of war lit by the Japanese in 1937. Teacher Liu finished his study in primary school and junior middle school after escaping to Shanghai. After the war of resistance against aggression, he returned to his home town and continued to study in middle school. In 1951, he was admitted to Renmin University in Northeast China, Changchun, Jilin. “At that time, I registered with the Educational Administration Department, and my simple desire was to be a teacher after graduation”. When I asked teacher Liu why he chose a law major, his answer was unexpected. “The law major was not chosen by me. When I went to the university, I knew that I was admitted by the Administration Department. In the second year, in the departments’ adjustment, the Administration Department and Department of Law were combined into one. Like this, I became a student of the Department of Law.” As the saying goes, men are afraid of choosing the wrong profession, while women are afraid of mistakenly marring a good-for-nothing husband. I said: “it proves that you didn’t choose the wrong profession”. All of teacher Liu’s family is very easy-going, and I am familiar with them, so I talk with them casually. I supplemented: “Mrs. Liu didn’t mistakenly marry the good-for-nothing husband”. Li Shulan is a retired senior secondary school teacher,. Liu Yongqing, eldest daughter of teacher Liu, went to llinois State University to study for a Master of Business Administration after gaining her BA in Law in China, and now she is works in law job for a foreign company. Liu Yongzi, youngest daughter of teacher Liu, went to Melbourne University, Australia to study for a Master of Arts Management after she graduated from a university in China, and now she serves as a teacher at Beijing University of Technology.


In July, 1955, teacher Liu was selected to go to the Soviet Union to study because of his excellent character and learning, after he graduated from Renmin University in Northeast China. Through one-year cultivation in Russian, he was admitted by the Law Department of the world famous Moscow University to study on the graduate course of Country and Law History in early November, 1956, before the October Revolution, his teacher was Carranza who was reputed to be a “red professor”. When mentioning his Soviet supervisor, teacher Liu was full of unselfish love and said: “at that time, he was approaching seventy years of age, but he was still studying for a doctoral degree. I was moved by his persistence and pursuit of his ideals and his strong will.” “In the very beginning, the language was difficult for me, and it was difficult for me to find materials. He was strict with me, but he had patience. Under his careful guidance, I completed my vice doctoral dissertation called Preparation and Pass of French Constitution smoothly. And it was the first academic dissertation I had ever done”. When recalling past events, teacher Liu is deeply grateful: “my scientific research activity started when I was a postgraduate in Moscow University. Especially in the process of writing dissertation, I have learned the basic skills for scientific research work, and I have also tasted joys and sorrows of scientific research work.”


In March, 1961, teacher Liu returned China after gaining a vice doctoral degree in law at Moscow University, and then he was assigned to the Law Institute of the Philosophy and Social Science Department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to be engaged in law research, and he has worked in this institute for forty-six years. He has researched intently for several decades. Academic positions he has held include, assistant researcher, associate researcher, researcher, master instructor, and doctoral supervisor. In addition, he has also served in various  administrative positions, including deputy director and director of the International Research Room and Chief Librarian of the Law Departments Library.


“Read ten thousand books and walk ten thousand miles.” Besides studying abroad in the Soviet Union, teacher Liu was also sent to the Law Department at the University of Bucharest Romania from 1979 to 1981. In addition, he has been to over ten countries and regions to participate in international conferences and carried out academic visits to, Canada, America, Australia, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Austria, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand and so on. In China, he visits all parts of China, including Taiwan and Hong Kong to give speeches or to participate in all kinds of academic activities.


Able men tied down to a routine post. In 2002, teacher Liu retired at 69, but his academic career didn’t stop. He accepted the restart of the Law Department, and he continued to work in the International Law Research Garden. In 2003, in order to strengthen international law research, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences decided to build an International Law Research Center at the International Law Research Room of the Law Institute, and teacher Liu became a member of this new research team, standing on a new starting line with new and old colleagues. At present, he is 74 years old, but he still serves as the Deputy Director of the Human Rights Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Vice Chairman of Chinese Society of International Law, Chief Editor of Chinese Journal of International Law, Executive Director of China Society for the Law of the Sea, Member of National Philosophy, Social Sciences, and Planning Society, and postdoctoral mentor, and continuis to contribute to the cause of international law. He has many things to do, teaching young scholars and receiving scholars from other units. I have always advised him not to do so much work, and the body is the capital of the revolution, but he always does as before.



Repay the Country with Books, the Research Field Hinges on the Country’s Needs



“As scholars, we repay the country with books.” As a returned scholar and member of the Communist Party, teacher Liu always values researching urgent topics faced by the country, so that he has changed his major because of the country’s needs. When he joned the Law Institute, he was assigned to the legal system team. At that time, law research in the new China was in its initial stages, and we mainly learned from the Soviet Union. Most of the work undertaken by teacher Liu in the beginning was translating Russian materials. With a good level of Russian and a foundation in law from studying in the Soviet Union, he was a good translator. Within two years, he put forward nearly twenty articles for Legal Research Material, restricted publications of the Law Institute, and he has co-translated and co-published books with other colleagues, such as Theory of Country and Law and Civil Legislation Outline of the Soviet Union and so on. In that period, he also wrote and published two academic theses. His first academic thesis Discussion on Rousseau’s Country Theory was published publically after he started work in New Construction, a famous journal of philosophy and social sciences in China at that time, in December, 1962, which inspired him. “This article was written under the appointment of Zhou Xinmin, Deputy Director and Leader of the Legal System Team, in memory of Rousseau’s 250th anniversary. He revised this article and recommended it for publication. This has given me confidence in scientific research work. I fell thankful that he took me through the gates of science.” Teacher Liu is sensitive, and he thinks constantly about the people who have helped him. However, with the requirements of national development and the arrangements of the organization, he transferred to research international law.


In the middle of the 1970s, after “the Great Cultural Revolution in China” ended, the cause of philosophy and social sciences was reborn. With the recovery of the Philosophy and Social Sciences Department, teacher Liu who had suspended law research for more than ten years and colleagues of the Law Institute returned to their scientific research posts with fresh spirits. In order to strengthen the ability of international law research, the leader of the Law Institute transferred teacher Liu from the legal system history team to the reorganized International Law Research Room to serve as the temporary person in charge. “At that time, international law research was influenced by national policy largely, and it was difficult to publish research results, so many people thought that it was hard to undertake international law research. However, I was interested in this new work. During my university studies, I was interested in the history of international relationships and international law, and my academic records were not very bad,” teacher Liu said, “this transfer was passive, but I was handed a good opportunity. Not long after I transferred to international law research, in a speech before the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, Comrade Deng Xiaoping put forward: “we shall vigorously strengthen international law research”. It pushed forward international law research in China. And enhanced my confidence in international law research.”


“If we say that your transfer to international law research was passive, your choice of International Law of the Sea and International Human Rights Law as your key research field started from your consideration of the situation, keen observation, the master of the development trend of international law, and strong responsibilities of repaying the country with books and using international law to maintain national interests”, I summarized his scientific research direction like this. When we talked about why he chose International Law of the Sea as his main direction of research, teacher Liu said: “at that time, the 3rd United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea was held, and the international society was discussing the formulation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The conference was held from 1973 to the end of 1982, aiming to achieve a blanket agreement on nearly all issues of the law of the sea. This was an international convention with the longest negotiation time, most issues involved, and most complicated system since the United Nations was established, and its importance is second only to Charter of the United Nations.” He pointed out that this conference and planned convention were very important for China. In the 1950s and 1960s, the United Nations only held two conferences on the law of the sea, which were participated in by representatives of Taiwan. When the third conference on the law of the sea was held, China’s legal position in the United Nations had recovered, and China sent a big delegation to take an active part in the discussion of the conference. As an ocean superpower and developing country, this convention connected with the interests of China. And at the same time, on issues appearing during the process of this convention’s negotiation, scholars of various countries researched and discussed issues of the law of the sea actively, while the base in this research field in China was very weak, and relevant theoretical research could not keep up with the course of the Conference on the Law of the Sea. Under these conditions, he thought that it was necessary to research the Law of the Sea. Consequently, he resolutely regarded the Law of the Sea as his main research direction and asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and State Oceanic Administration to take part in research on issues discussed at the Conference on the Law of the Sea. Through this he became one of main frontrunners in the field of researching the Law of the Sea in China.


During the Conference on the Law of the Sea, teacher Liu folloed the conferences course with perseverance and took an active part in discussions organized by relevant departments, and tried hard to plan advice and suggestions for the Chinese delegations participating in the Conference on the Law of the Sea. And at the same time, teacher Liu achieved results in the theoretical research of the Law of the Sea. In 1986, the book International Law of the Sea was finished and published under his charge, written by several theoretical workers on the Law of the Sea and Chinese representatives participating in the Conference on the Law of the Sea jointly. This is the first academic book comprehensively and systematically discussing the international ocean law system, and it makes a contribution to the foundation of the discipline of the Law of the Sea in China. After the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was passed, this book is one of books which interprets the convention and international ocean law system, which was the first  internationally. When I studied for my master’s degree, Professor Cheng Xiaoxia of Renmin University, China recommended this book to me and said: “this is the most comprehensive, systematic, and complete International Law of the Sea monograph in China.” After reading over it, I mastered the Law of the Sea comprehensively and systematically. Finally, I followed teacher Liu to study for my doctoral degree in the research of International Law of the Sea in 1995. Once, when Professor Wang Jiafu, ex-director of the Law Institute, talked about discipline construction on international law at the Law Institute, he praised highly the academic influence of this book. Seal Law Communiqué published by the United Nations has always listed this book as the main Chinese book in the field of International Law of the Sea. It is very interesting that I found this book in the library of the University of Lapland in Finland in 2001, and it may be the most unique Chinese law book in this library at that time. Over the past twenty years, teacher Liu has continulally traced the development of International Law of the Sea, especially paying attention to the research of issues of the Law of the Sea related to China, and he pegged his own academic research with the cause of the Law of the Sea in China. Successively, he has participated in the research of issues of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the drafting and discussion of important Law of the Sea, such as Law on Territorial Seas and Adjacent Zones, Law on Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf, Sea Area Utilization and Management Law, and Marine Environment Protection Law and so on, and the research and discussion of some important issues, such as legal issues of the South China Sea Islands, demarcation problems of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, and American navies’ measuring activities within the exclusive economic zone of China and so on. For a long time, teacher Liu has been active in the research of important issues of the law of the sea in China. With profound attainments and influences in the field of the research of the law of the sea, original ocean resources research, development, the leading protection team of the State Council has always employed him as a member of national ocean resources research, development, and protection expert team. He is the only expert on the law of the sea on the expert team.


After the 1980s, with the prominence of human rights issues in the layer of international politics and law, teacher Liu opened up international human rights law as another new key research field. The background at that time is: on the one hand, after the reform and opening-up policy was implemented in China, more and more people took part in international human rights activities, actively participated in discussions on human rights issues and the formulation of international human rights at the United Nations, and attended more than ten international human rights conventions in succession; on the other hand, some western countries made human rights diplomacy for political ends, started arguments on issues of human rights, and tried to contain China with the issues of human rights. Under these conditions, international human rights law became a hot topic in China and the whole law field. I remember that Comrade Jiang Zemin indicated that the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences shall strengthen the research on human rights issues. In order to undertake this task, the Human Rights Research Center emerged as the times require, and teacher Liu was appointed as one of the responsible people at the center. Before and after this, he and other scholars were appointed to many countries in Europe, Asia, and America to investigate human rights protection and existing issues and wrote a series of investigation reports, which provided a large quantity of useful materials and suggestions for the construction of the human rights system and human rights research in China. In 1993, the United Nations decided to hold the second World Human Rights Conference in Vienna. China attached great importance to this conference and decided to appoint delegations to participate. In order to make the necessary preparation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Law Institute to research relevant issues. Teacher Liu was appointed to hold and finish the composition of Theoretical Countermeasures and Suggestions on China’s Participation of World Human Rights Conference in 1993 and made contributions to China’s formulation of its position and policy for its participation in the World Human Rights Conference, and he was highly praised by relevant departments. This article was among the document collection for China’s participation in the World Human Rights Conference. In the middle of the 1990s, in order to coordinate China to sign up to and approve two international human rights conventions, he was appointed to hold and write Research Report on China’s Participation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Research Report on China’s Participation of the International Covenant on Civil Rights and Political Rights, which were valued by relevant departments of the Party Central Committee and some leaders. He took an active part in all kinds of human rights conversations and seminars at home and abroad, exchanged widely with foreign human rights scholars and officers, and stated the construction of the human rights legal system, human rights policies, human rights concepts, and human rights theories of China in several aspects.


Teacher Liu took an active part in human rights activities and discussions on human rights policies in China, and at the same time, he researched deeply and systematically the theoretical and actual issues on international human rights. He has put forward unique opinions on some issues, such as the universality and particularity of human rights, the relationship between human rights and sovereign rights, the boundary between international human rights protection and not interfering in the affairs of other nations, and the mechanism for implementing the human rights convention in China and so on. In 1991, at the international new order seminar held by our institute, teacher Liu gave a speech called “International New Order and Human Rights”, which was widely valued by scholars participating in the seminar at home and abroad and the news media. In 1994, he edited and published Developing Countries and Human Rights, one of the Human Rights Research Materials Collection organized and compiled by The Theory Bureau of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee of the CPC, which has systematically discussed and summarized human rights views of developing countries. And in the same year, he organized the International Law Seminar of Chinese scholars and Dutch scholars in Beijing, mainly discussing issues on the universality and particularity of human rights. Papers of the seminar were published in China and the Netherlands in Chinese and English, and the name of the English edition is “Human Rights: Chinese and Dutch Perspectives”. This is the first book systematically introducing Chinese scholars’ human rights perspectives, and it is published in foreign countries. Research achievements of teacher Liu in the aspect of human rights and international human rights law have been highly praised by people at home and abroad. Research Report on China’s Participation of the International Covenant on Civil Rights and Political Rights held by him, and Research on Human Rights Theories and Countermeasures and Encyclopedia of Chinese Human Rights have won the Excellent Scientific Research Achievement Prize from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in succession.


When talking about the choice of research fields and research key points, I said: “asking your pardon, your exciting point for undertaking scientific research and your uppermost achievements are always on the most urgent theoretical topic faced by the country. I think this is not only because you are in the position of an official scholar of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, but also because you indeed have the thought and enthusiasm for working for the country. I think that this is the heart of a scholar to repay the country.”


Teacher Liu said that there were numerous issues needed researching in front of researchers. As for what issues we shall research, to a large extent, researchers should consider. There are no prohibited areas of scientific research, and scientific researchers can research any issues, namely they are free in the choice of research issues. However, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences is an institute established by China, and it is the think tank and brain trust of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, so at the time of researching issues, researchers of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences can not start from their own interests completely, without considering the nation’s needs. He pointed out that international law has very strong applicability. Scholars of international law in China shall value not only theoretical research, but also research actual issues of international law faced by the country, especially the research of some issues of international law involving the maintenance of national legal rights, international peace and development, and the maintenance of the international normal order and so on, making a stand against power politics and hegemonism internationally, and never showing no interest in bad acts of trumping international law. Teacher Liu does what he says. In books on international law published by him, in quite a lot of books, he has not only stated theories of international law, but also connected with actual situations, using international law to oppose international illegal actions, to maintain the national interests of China, and to uphold international justice. On May 7th, 1999, after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization whose leader is America made a surprise attack on the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, besides accepting media interviews and blaming the savage acts on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, teacher Liu also wrote swiftly to reveal the illegal nature of the savage acts of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in international law. Regarding this event, he has published As for the Attack of Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Must Undertake International Illegal Responsibilities and North Atlantic Treaty Organization whose leader is America Has Trampled on International Law Roughly and so on. In 2004, after the event that American soldiers stationed in Iraq had maltreated prisoners was exposed, he accepted interviews from the media, blamed American soldiers’ despicable behavior for going against international law, and published some articles, such as American Soldiers’ Maltreatment of Prisoners Seriously Violates International Law and so on. The righteousness of scholars in Chinese international law was revealed among the words and between the lines of these articles.


Teacher Liu not only insists on linking theory with practice, practicing what he preaches, and paying much attention to actual issues, especially theoretical and actual issues which require immediate solutions in Chinese foreign affairs practice, but also always teaches his students and young scholars: “you shall not only learn basic theories well, but also research actual problems, especially actual topics faced by the country, so as to the maintain national interests of China with the use of international law.” And I had deep feelings about this when I studied under him. The topic selection of my doctoral dissertation was produced under his guidance to a large extent. In 1996, teacher Liu was employed as a member of the expert team on fishery sources legislation issues of the relevant exclusive economic zone of the Ministry of Agriculture. He knew deeply the urgent requirement of pressing on the research of international fishery law, and he suggested that I regard issues on international fishery law as the topic selection for my doctoral dissertation. Later, he also took me to participate in the discussion meeting on fishery sources legislation issues at the Bureau of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture, and he led me to coastal areas to investigate and research ocean and fishery management issues, so I knew about and felt relevant actual issues. At that time, someone said: “select this kind of title for a doctoral dissertation, and I am afraid that it will be difficult for you to find work after graduating.” However, with the influence of my supervisor, I have “refused to come to my senses”. Finally, I wrote my doctoral dissertation named New Development of Fishery Legal System in International Waters, which was a concern of relevant government departments. In addition, after graduating as a doctor, I regard International Law of the Sea and Fishery Law as my key research field.


In 2006, at a symposium, which talked about researchers who were members of the Communist Party, teacher Liu emphasized again and again: “you shall combine your own research interest, research direction, topic selection, and the country’s needs together and maintain national interests through researching and applying international law, so that you can play a role in the think tank and brain trust better.” For several decades, he just practiced this kind of faith diligently and conscientiously.



Abundant Scientific Research Achievements, Practical and Innovative Academic Viewpoints



Teacher Liu has researched the field of international law research, with abundant achievements. He has written and edited several monographs and collected papers, such as International Law of the Sea, International Law, Developing Countries and Human Rights, Universality and Particularity of Human Rights, and Research on Issues of International Criminal Law and so on, co-translated books, such as Modern International Law of the Sea, International Private Law, Theories of Country and Law, and History of the Study of Politics and so on; he has published more than ten academic theses at home and abroad, such as 1946Preparation and Pass of French Constitution, Discussion on Rousseau’s Country Theory, International New Order and Human Rights, Discussion on the Relationship between Human Rights and Sovereign Rights, Keep Effects on the Approval and Implementation of International Convention of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and See the Legal Status of “U” Mode Line in the South China Sea from International Law of the Sea and so on; he has also written several research reports, and numerous other academic achievements. In addition, he has also cultivated a group of masters, doctors, and post doctors, some of which have become key people in the scientific research and teaching work of Chinese international law. He has made outstanding contributions to developing the Chinese social science cause, so he was praised by the State Council in 1992, and he enjoys lifelong special government benefits.


Talking about teacher Liu’s achievements in the theory and practice of Chinese international law, if you use some words with quantization, like “an author with many works to his credit”, it is not complete. Besides books published public ally, many countermeasure research reports written by him for relevant departments of the Party Central Committee, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs etc., have had an effect on the practice of some international law in China.


Teacher Liu is very modest. He hasn’t talked about any achievements in front of me, and some achievements listed above were solicited from him. I talked with him not long after; the topic was changed to his opinion of the development of the law of the sea.


He opened the International Law of the Sea, and sighed with emotion: “this book was published in 1986. Through the years, conditions have changed a lot. We shall renew and supplement a lot of content, so this book needs revising. However, I don’t have enough time and energy, so this task will rely on you young people.”


I took this “bible” which had taken me through the doors of the international law of the sea, and I felt the heavy content. If we regard it as a doorsill, I have crossed over it. However, it is a series of High Mountains, and it is not easy for me to go over them. I turned over the familiar pages and said continuously: “more than twenty years ago, features and causes summarized and discussed by you in this book on international law of the sea after “the second world war” were very concise, with intensive analysis. And it is known that nobody has ever undertaken such profound research on these issues in China.”


He said: “at present, if we recall the developmental course of the law of the sea and look into its development and cause of its formation after the 1990s, we shall research many issues.”


“In your book, you summarized the revolution feature of international law of the sea after “the second world war” as a sentence, “the applicable scope of ocean liberty principle has been narrowed largely, and the trend that sovereign states and international organizations manage organizationally has strengthened gradually””, I tasted this sentence with appreciation, “this sentence highly summarizes the main line for the development of internal law of the sea for the past half a century.”


He said: “the development and change over the past twenty years states that this opinion is right. And this trend is still ongoing. In the 1990s, after the cold war was ended, under the background that international situations become relaxed and a kind of intention of cooperation for solving regional and global problems appeared, the United Nations held a conference to revise chapter 11 of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, namely deep-sea mining. And then, in 1995, the United Nations also passed Agreement on Trans-boundary and High Migratory Fish Population, which revised the provision on the fishery industry in international waters in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In 2000, the International Sea Bed Authority passed Prospecting and Exploration Rules of Polymetallic Nodule within the “Region”, and in 2004, it also formulated the draft of Prospecting and Exploration Rules of Polymetallic Sulfide and so on. And the law of the sea has developed greatly in the recent ten years.”


“At present, the international society is discussing the protection of oceananic biodiversity outside areas of national jurisdiction. The European Union proposes to formulate the third executive agreement of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the key point is building an ocean protection area in international waters. And the issue on deep-sea fishing was also put forward. In November, 2003, the first Deep-sea Fishery Academic Seminar was held in New Zealand. In addition, many problems, such as setting trans-boundary ocean sources environment protection area and protection area in international waters and so on, have been on the table,” I chimed in.


“Reasons for this change are various, including international politics, economics, science and technology, and military affairs and so on. Only researching its reasons deeply, can we forecast its development trend and think about the countermeasures of China,” he said.


“In this book, you summarized the revolution reasons of the international law of the sea after “the second world war” in three points: firstly, economic recovery and development within the global range and the rapid rise of world population have increased the need to protect the oceans, so various countries struggle to control ocean resources. Secondly, swiftly developed science and technology provides the means and actual possibility for human beings to make use of the ocean in a wider range, especially exploring and developing ocean resources, including deep-sea resources. Under this background, many national legislation, national documents, and proposals on widening national sea area scope of jurisdiction, the utilization and protection of ocean sources, and other ocean usage have been put forward. For example, Truman, the American President, published a continental shelf announcement in 1945; Latin American countries proposed the ocean rights of 200 miles; in 1967, Marc Ado, the Maltese ambassador, suggested that the ocean bed and its subsoil outside the scope of the jurisdiction of various countries shall be announced as “common heritage of mankind”, which was accepted by the United Nations assembly. This series of activities has shaken traditional international law of the sea from its foundation. Thirdly, the rise of third world countries plays an improving role in the development of the law of the sea. They ask to break the traditional international law of the sea, which benefits western countries, and building a new international law of the sea legal system reflecting their benefits”, I read out this chapter spontaneously. “I think that this analysis and discussion are extremely incisive, especially under those conditions”, I said.


Teacher Liu said: “this is the analysis and judgment of that condition. It can not completely state the causes for the development of international law of the sea in recent years. After the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea passed, especially since the 1990s, various causes have pushed forward for the revision of the convention and the new development of the law of the sea. For example, the discovery of new mineral resources on the seabed, the exhaustion of world fishery resources, the increase in and awareness of ocean environment protection globally, further development of ocean technology, and the development of military activity on the sea and anti-terrorism situation etc., these factors have pushed forward the development of the law of the sea continuously.”


I said: “in my doctoral dissertation written in 1998 and Tendency for the Development of International Law of the Sea, the speech to Chinese International Law Annual Conference in 2006, we have put forward: after the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea passed, in the 1980s, the practice of international law of the sea was mainly building, consolidating, and coordinating legal systems within national scope of jurisdiction; after the 1990s, the key point for the development of the law of the sea was re-arranging and strengthening regions outside the national scope of jurisdiction, especially the development of international sea-bed areas and a  legal system for the fishery industry in international waters. After the 1990s, features for the development of the law of the sea can be summarized in the following points: firstly, coordinate the benefit based relationships between developed countries and developing countries. And the most outstanding expression was the material alteration of chapter 11 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, namely the development system of international sea-bed regions. Secondly, make up for the contradictions and conflicts between interests in international waters and the coast because of the misalignment of the ocean ecology boundary and political boundary caused by the demarcation of exclusive economic zones. Classic example: in 1995, Agreement on Trans-boundary and High Migratory Fish Population. This agreement requires that maintenance and management measurements inside and outside exclusive economic zones shall be coordinated mutually. Thirdly, coordinate the conflict of interests between resource development and resource and environment protection in sea areas (international waters and “regions”) outside national scope of jurisdiction. And it is mainly revealed in several aspects: deep-sea mining and environmental protection, protection of biological diversity, protection areas of international waters, and the development and protection of deep-sea fishery resources and so on.”


Teacher Liu evaluated my observation in a positive way. “In this aspect, you have made beneficial research. You shall pay special attention to analyzing influences of these developments of international law of the sea towards China. In addition, what attitudes and countermeasures can China take?” he said, “China is an ocean superpower but not an ocean great power. The ocean geography in China is disadvantageous, and China faces a rigorous situation for maintaining national ocean rights and interests. Through the years, I always thought that the research on the Chinese law of the sea shall be enhanced. Firstly, we don’t research the whole theoretical system of the law of the sea comprehensively, systematically, and deeply. Theoretical research is unable to keep pace with realistic needs; secondly, there aren’t enough talents specially researching the law of the sea, and the overall research strength is not strong enough. Current organizations engaging in the research of the law of the sea shall be strengthened. Doctoral supervisors who are qualified to recruit doctors with the research direction of the law of the sea are few on a national scale. As a national level research institute, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences doesn’t have a specialized research unit on ocean issues. China wants to build an ocean great power, but corresponding policies and measurements are not enough. It relates to the long-term historical culture in China: valuing land, neglecting ocean and weak ocean sense.” He said meaningfully.


I know that teacher Liu has his own opinions on some issues, such as the standard for confirming the range of the continental shelf and the legal position of “U” mode line in the South China Sea and so on. However, the interview time was limited, so we changed the subject to another key research field of his --- international human rights law.


In the field of international human rights law, teacher Liu has stated his opinions on positions, policies, and specific countermeasures that China shall adopt on issues of human rights in a series of countermeasure research reports written for relevant departments of the Party Central Committee, and he has also discussed incisively some issues, such as the position of human rights in the international order, the relationship between human rights and sovereign rights, and human rights viewpoints of developing countries and so on, in some public works.


“In your book Developing Countries and Human Rights, on the basis of analyzing and researching a large amount of material, you summarized the human rights viewpoints of developing countries as follows: facilitating human rights is the common ideal of people of all countries; human rights is universal, but at the time of handling human rights issues, you shall consider the diversity of every country in the world in politics, economics, society, and culture; human rights can not be segmented, namely it includes not only civil rights and political rights, but also economic rights, social rights, and cultural rights, not only individual rights, but also collective rights; development rights are inalienable human rights; people’s right of self-determination is a basic human right; old international economic order is the root cause for human rights violations, and we shall facilitate building international economic new order to maintain human rights; the primary task for implementing human rights lies in various countries; promote human rights through the way of conversation and cooperation, rather than confrontation; oppose the politicization and ideology of human rights issues.” I know deeply that behind these profound and highly concise words, there is much painstaking effort and the wisdom of the author.


He said: “it is the essence of this book.”


I said: “this is the first attempt made by Chinese scholar. Few people have made so comprehensive and systematic summarization internationally. In this theoretical issue, you have made a creative contribution to international human rights and human rights theory.”


He supplemented: “since modern times, people in developing countries have been constricted by colonialism and imperialism, without any human rights. Therefore, they specially value, cherish, and try hard to pursue human rights. Developing countries have formed their own human rights viewpoints after a long development process. They have made great achievements in the aspect of striving for and maintaining human rights. However, we should realize that the full realization of human rights needs a long development process.”



Think Highly of International Law Research, Place Hopes on Young Scholars



When teacher Liu was asked about his opinions and suggestions for young scholars, a modest and rigorous teacher Liu didn’t consider himself to be a master. He praised the young people in the Law Institute and International Law Center. “At present, half of working the staff in the institute are young people under forty years old. You are young and have wide knowledge, and you can gain information from the internet as much and soon as you can. In addition, most of you have been abroad, with good English, new concepts, and new ideas, and you are completely capable of doing better than people of my generation. I place hopes on you and other young people in the International Law Center”, he emphasized, “at present, in the aspect of material gains in Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, they are not very high, but it is a good environment for undertaking research and learning knowledge. As for learning knowledge, you must have the spirit of a nail and dedication. I hope that you young people can resist external temptations. ”


As for young scholars engaging in international law research, he said: “at present, the world is not very peaceful, and international relationships are anfractuous, with rapid change, so it is very necessary for international law to coordinate the relationship between countries and to maintain world peace and normal international order. Through twenty-years of reform and opening-up, the international status of China has been enhanced a great deal, but all kinds of contradictions and conflicts in the relationship with other countries have appeared. We should be good at solving international disputes with the use of international law, so as to maintain the lawful rights and interests of China.”


And then, he said: “at the time of maintaining national interests, we shall also make contributions to world peace and development and the improvement of the whole body of mankind. Therefore, China has proposed to build a just and rational international new order and put forward the proposal and objective of building an harmonious world. These involve many issues related to international law.”


“It is the era of a multipolarised world and economic globalization, and issues of international law emerge endlessly, so you are able to develop your skills to fullfil your research of international law”, he said, “choose your research field, and research with persistence. You may feel pain sometimes, but will gain some major achievements after all.”


Wang Hanling, male, was the doctor of laws at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and post doctor of laws at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. At present, he is an associate researcher at the International Law Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a Professor at the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and special arbitration expert in the Chinese fishery industry through the nomination of the Chinese government to the United Nations in accordance with United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He is an ocasioanl consultant to the Legal Office of the United Nations.


Translated by Feng Weijiang.

Editor: Wang Daohang

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