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Exposing the Gap Between PRC Rhetoric and Illicit Maritime Activity

The illicit maritime activities allegedly carried out by actors tied to the People’s Republic of China inflict economic and environmental damage on coastal nations, violate their sovereignty, and harm their citizens. These alleged illicit activities are at odds with Beijing's official rhetoric expressing support for international maritime laws, rules, and norms.

To develop a better understanding of this apparent contradiction, CNA examined 15 instances in which PRC actors were accused of carrying out illicit activities between 2018 and 2021 in the maritime areas surrounding Southeast Asia, the Atlantic coast of Africa, and Pacific Island Countries.

In December 2021, CNA's China Studies Program hosted a pair of webinars exploring the gap between PRC rhetoric and illicit maritime activity. Each event included remarks from China analysts Ryan Loomis and Heidi Holz drawing on the research available below, followed by comments from regional expert panels. The December 16 webinar can be viewed here and the December 17 webinar can be viewed here.