The whole "China in the South China Sea" issue has been a subject of some heated debate en famille here in our Hong Kong home.
This article, "Challenging China's Illegal Maritime Baselines" in the Wall Street Journal, talks about an issue I didn't know about: "straight baselines".
The U.S. Navy on Friday conducted a freedom of navigation operation (Fonop) near disputed features in the South China Sea, its fourth in the past year. A destroyer, the USS Decatur, sailed "in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands," close to but not within the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits of land features in the Paracels.
In past Fonops, U.S. warships sailed within the 12-nautical-mile zone of land features claimed by China and other countries in the region. Those operations challenged unlawful requirements that a warship seek prior authorization or provide advance notification to exercise innocent passage in territorial waters.
The latest operation was different. It broadened the target of U.S. Fonops in the South China Sea to include China's illegal straight baselines around the Paracels. Straight baselines join the outermost points of an island or a group of islands, and have the effect of enclosing the waters within them as "internal waters."