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Ryan LoomisHeidi Holz
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with Tagalog Filipino translation

In recent years, persons, vessels, and corporations based in or tied to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have reportedly engaged in illicit maritime activities around the globe. The reported illicit maritime activities of PRC actors are often at odds with Beijing’s rhetoric expressing support for international maritime laws (including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS), rules, and norms. Unless it is addressed, this gap between Beijing’s rhetoric and the behavior of PRC actors has the potential to undermine the global system of international laws, norms, and conventions that govern the maritime domain.
To examine possible contradictions between the PRC’s official rhetoric and the illicit transnational maritime activities reportedly carried out by PRC-based actors, CNA examined 15 cases in which PRC actors have been accused of illegal behavior in the maritime domain between 2018 and 2021. For each case, we examined the following:

  • The alleged illegal PRC activity and the types of PRC actors involved
  • PRC official policies and narratives about that type of activity (e.g., illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing or human trafficking)
  • International, local, and PRC laws, policies, and norms at risk of subversion by the alleged activity
  • PRC officials’ and media responses to these incidents

This document contains the original English-language version and a Tagalog Filipino translation of CNA's case study examining a 2021 incident in which PRC fisherfolk illegally harvested protected giant clams in the vicinity of Philippines-administered Pag-asa Island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly Islands.

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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited.

This work was performed under Cooperative Agreement/Grant Award Number: SGECPD19CA0026.

This project has been supported by funding from the U.S. Department of State.


  • Pages: 12
  • Document Number: IIM-2021-U-031289-Final
  • Publication Date: 12/1/2021
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