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Ryan LoomisHeidi Holz
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with Khmer 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 thealleged activity
  • PRC officials’ and media responses to these incidents

This document contains the original English-language version and a Khmer translation of CNA's case study examining a 2020 incident in which Cambodian maritime authorities arrested 36 PRC nationals and two Cambodians for illegal entry into the country aboard a Cambodian-flagged vessel named Tong Hai.

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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: 14
  • Document Number: IIM-2021-U-031292-Final
  • Publication Date: 12/1/2021
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