East China Sea

The East China Sea is a marginal sea east of China. The East China Sea is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of roughly 1,249,000 square kilometres (482,000 sq mi). To the east lies the Japanese island of Kyushu and the Ryukyu Islands, to the south, lies the South China Sea, and to the west by the Asian continent. The sea connects with the Sea of Japan (East Sea) through the Korea Strait and opens to the north into the Yellow Sea. The countries which border the sea include Japan, Taiwan and China.

Coordinates: 30°N 125°E / 30°N 125°E

East China Sea
East China Sea Map
The East China Sea, showing surrounding regions, islands, cities, and seas
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese1. 东海
2. 东中国海
Traditional Chinese1. 東海
2. 東中國海
Korean name
Japanese name
Kanji東シナ海 (2004–)
東支那海 (1913–2004)
(literally "East Shina Sea")


The East China Sea is a part of the Pacific Ocean and covers an area of roughly 1,249,000 square kilometres (482,000 sq mi). It is bounded on the east by Kyūshū and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan, on the south by the South China Sea, and on the west by the Asian continent. It connects with the Sea of Japan through the Korea Strait; it opens in the north to the Yellow Sea.

Countries with borders on the sea (clockwise from north) include: South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the People's Republic of China.


The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the "Eastern China Sea (Tung Hai)" as follows:[1]

On the South.
The Northern limit of the South China Sea [From Fuki Kaku the North point of Formosa to Kiushan Tao (Turnabout Island) on to the South point of Haitan Tao (25°25' N) and thence Westward on the parallel of 25°24' North to the coast of Fukien], thence from Santyo the Northeastern point of Formosa to the West point of Yonakuni Island and thence to Haderuma Sima (24°03′ N, 123°47′ E).
On the East.
From Haderuma Sima a line including the Miyako Retto to the East point of Miyako Sima and thence to Okinan Kaku, the Southern extremity of Okinawa Sima through this island to Ada-Ko Sima (Sidmouth Island) on to the East point of Kikai Sima (28°20' N) through Tanegra Sima (30°30' N) to the North point thereof and on to Hi-Saki (31°17' N) in Kyusyu.
On the North.
From Nomo Saki (32°35' N) in Kyusyu to the South point of Hukae Sima (Goto Retto) and on through this island to Ose Saki (Cape Goto) and to Hunan Kan, the South point of Saisyu To (Quelpart), through this island to its Western extreme and thence along the parallel of 33°17' North to the mainland.
On the West.
The mainland of China.


The Yangtze River (Chang Jiang) is the largest river flowing into the East China Sea.

Islands and reefs

Dayu Bay - Damen Shan - P1210677
East China Sea coast in Cangnan County, Zhejiang

There is a cluster of submerged reefs in the northern East China Sea. These include:

  • Socotra Rock, also called Suyan Rock or Ieodo, a subject of an EEZ dispute between the People's Republic of China and South Korea.
  • Hupijiao Rock (虎皮礁)
  • Yajiao Rock (鸭礁)


The sea is called the East Sea in Chinese (東海; Dōng Hǎi), being one of the Four Seas of Chinese literature. There are three other seas, one for each of the four cardinal directions.[2]

Until World War II, the sea was referred to as 東支那海 (Higashi Shina Kai; "East Shina Sea") in Japanese. In 2004, official documents of the Japanese Foreign Ministry and other departments switched to the name 東シナ海 (pronounced the same), which has become the standard usage in Japan.

Common usage in Indonesia refers to the sea as Laut Cina Timur (East China Sea). This name was used officially by the Indonesian government until 2014, when Indonesia switched usage from the word Cina to Tiongkok instead; since then, the name Laut Tiongkok Timur become standard usage in Indonesia. Despite this, many Indonesian media outlets and publications continue to use the former sea name.



American whaleships cruised for right whales in the sea between 1849 and 1892.[3]

EEZ disputes

There are disputes between the People's Republic of China (PRC), Japan, and South Korea over the extent of their respective exclusive economic zones (EEZ).[4]

The dispute between the PRC and Japan concerns the different application of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which both nations have ratified.[5] China and Japan both claim 200 nautical miles EEZ rights, but the East China Sea width is only 360 nautical miles.[6] China proposed the application of UNCLOS, considering the natural prolongation of its continental shelf, advocating that the EEZ extends as far as the Okinawa Trough.[7][8] Its Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that "the natural prolongation of the continental shelf of China in the East China Sea extends to the Okinawa Trough and beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of China is measured,"[7] which is applicable to the relevant UNCLOS provisions that support China's right to the natural shelf.[7][8] In 2012, China presented a submission under the UNCLOS concerning the outer limits of the continental shelf to the UN.[9][10] However, Japan claims about 40,000 square kilometers part of this territory as its own EEZ because it is within 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its coast, and thus proposed the Median line division of the EEZ.[6][11]

View of South China Sea
View of East China Sea from Yeliou, Taiwan

In 1995, the People's Republic of China (PRC) discovered an undersea natural gas field in the East China Sea, namely the Chunxiao gas field,[12] which lies within the Chinese EEZ while Japan believes it is connected to other possible reserves beyond the median line.[13] Japan has objected to PRC development of natural gas resources in the East China Sea near the area where the two countries Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claims overlap. The specific development in dispute is the PRC's drilling in the Chunxiao gas field, which is located in undisputed areas on China's side, three or four miles (6 km) west of the median line proposed by Japan. Japan maintains that although the Chunxiao gas field rigs are on the PRC side of a median line that Tokyo regards as the two sides' sea boundary, they may tap into a field that stretches underground into the disputed area.[14] Japan therefore seeks a share in the natural gas resources. The gas fields in the Xihu Sag area in the East China Sea (Canxue, Baoyunting, Chunxiao, Duanqiao, Wuyunting, and Tianwaitian) are estimated to hold proven reserves of 364 BCF of natural gas.[15] Commercial operations began 2006. In June 2008, both sides agreed to jointly develop the Chunxiao gas fields,[14] but they have never been able to agree on how to execute the plan.[16]

Rounds of disputes about island ownership in the East China Sea have triggered both official and civilian protests between China and Japan.[17]

The dispute between PRC and South Korea concerns Socotra Rock, a submerged reef on which South Korea has constructed the Ieodo Ocean Research Station. While neither country claims the rock as territory, the PRC has objected to Korean activities there as a breach of its EEZ rights.

East China Sea in astronomy

Possibly, East China Sea (Donghai in Chinese) is represented with the star Eta Serpentis in asterism Left Wall, Heavenly Market enclosure (see Chinese constellation).[18]

See also


  1. ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas" (PDF) (3rd ed.). Monaco: International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. p. 33. Special Publication No. 23. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  2. ^ Chang, Chun-shu (2007). The Rise of the Chinese Empire: Nation, State, and Imperialism in Early China, ca. 1600 B.C. – A.D. 8. University of Michigan Press. pp. 263–264. ISBN 978-0-472-11533-4.
  3. ^ Ocmulgee, of Holmes Hole, Feb. 10-Mar. 27, 1849, Old Dartmouth Historical Society (ODHS); Covington, of Warren, Feb. 26-Mar. 21, 1854, Nicholson Whaling Collection (NWC); Florida, of Fairhaven, Mar. 15-Apr. 7, 1860, in Old Whaling Family (Williams, 1964); John and Winthrop, of San Francisco, Feb. 22-Mar. 31, 1890, ODHS; Cape Horn Pigeon, of New Bedford, Feb. 18-Apr. 14, 1892, Kendall Whaling Museum (KWM).
  4. ^ James Manicom, Bridging Troubled Waters: China, Japan, and Maritime Order in the East China Sea (Georgetown University Press; 2014)
  5. ^ Koo, Min Gyo (2009). Island Disputes and Maritime Regime Building in East Asia. Springer. pp. 182–183. ISBN 9781441962232.
  6. ^ a b "Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands". Globalsecurity.org.
  7. ^ a b c Wang, Yuanyuan (2012). "China to submit outer limits of continental shelf in East China Sea to UN". Xinhua. Archived from the original on 2013-12-08.
  8. ^ a b Guo, Rongxing (2006). Territorial disputes and resource management: A global handbook. New York: Nova Science Pub Inc. p. 104. ISBN 9781600214455.
  9. ^ "China reports to UN outer limits of continental shelf in East China Sea". Global Times. 2012. Archived from the original on 2013-12-08.
  10. ^ Yu, Runze (2012). "China reports to UN outer limits of continental shelf in E. China Sea". SINA English. Archived from the original on 2013-12-08.
  11. ^ "Diplomatic Bluebook 2006" (PDF). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. p. 43. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-08.
  12. ^ Kim, Sun Pyo (2004). Maritime delimitation and interim arrangements in North East Asia. The Hague: M. Nijhoff. p. 285. ISBN 9789004136694.
  13. ^ Bush, Richard C. (2010). The perils of proximity: China-Japan security relations. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. p. 76. ISBN 9780815704744.
  14. ^ a b Fackler, Martin (19 June 2008). "China and Japan in Deal Over Contested Gas Fields". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "EIA Country Analysis Briefs, East China Sea". Energy Information Administration. March 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-09-20.
  16. ^ Marianne Lavelle & Jeff Smith (26 October 2012). "Why Are China and Japan Sparring Over Eight Tiny, Uninhabited Islands?". National Geographic News.
  17. ^ "Chinese, Japanese Stage Protests Over East China Sea Islands". Voice of America.
  18. ^ 天文教育資訊網 [Activities of Exhibition and Education in Astronomy] (in Chinese), Activities of Exhibition and Education in Astronomy (aeea.nmns.edu.tw), 23 June 2006, retrieved 19 October 2012

Further reading

External links

Bulldog catshark

The bulldog catshark (Apristurus pinguis) is a catshark of the family Scyliorhinidae, found in the deep waters of the East China Sea and in the Northwest Pacific. In New Zealand waters it is found at the Reinga Ridge, the West Norfolk Ridge, the Hikurangi Trough and the Chatham Rise as well as on the Campbell Plateau.

Dachen Islands

The Dachen Islands, Tachen Islands or Tachens (simplified Chinese: 大陈群岛; traditional Chinese: 大陳群島; pinyin: Dàchén Qúndǎo) are a group of islands off the coast of Taizhou, Zhejiang, China, in the East China Sea. They are administered by Jiaojiang District of Taizhou.

Daishan County

Daishan (Chinese: 岱山; pinyin: Dàishān) is a county under the jurisdiction of Zhoushan, Zhejiang Province. It covers a land area of 326 square kilometres (126 square miles) and has a population of 200,000. The postal code is 316200, and the county seat is located on 88 Renmin Road, Gaoting Town.

The county is located in East China Sea in northeast Zhejiang. It comprises a series of islands with Daishan Island forming the main part of the county. Daishan Island has a fishing port, and shipbuilding and ship refitting facilities. The island has several museums including salt, marine life, typhoon and lifehouse museums.

The county consists of 6 towns and 1 township.

Town: Gaoting, Dongsha, Daixi, Changtu, Qushan, Daodong;

Township: Xiushan.

Donghai Bridge

Donghai Bridge (Chinese: t 東海大橋, s 东海大桥, p Dōnghǎi Dàqiáo, Wu Tonhe Dujiau lit. "East China Sea Bridge") is a Chinese bridge counted among the longest cross-sea bridges in the world. It was completed on December 10, 2005. It has a total length of 32.5 kilometres (20.2 mi) and connects mainland Shanghai's Pudong New Area with the offshore Yangshan Deep-Water Port in Zhejiang's Shengsi County. Most of the bridge is a low-level viaduct. There are also cable-stayed sections to allow for the passage of large ships, the largest with a span of 420 metres (1,380 ft). Donghai Bridge is part of the S2 Hulu Expressway.

The bridge has a long and narrow speedway and does not allow vehicles that do not meet the weight requirements.

East Sea Fleet

The Eastern Theater Command Navy (Chinese: 东部战区海军), or East Sea Fleet (ESF; Chinese: 东海舰队), is one of the three fleets of the People's Liberation Army Navy, operating in the East China Sea under the Eastern Theater Command. It was the first naval force formed by the People's Liberation Army, on 23 April 1949 and was initially based at Shanghai. Renamed in 1955, it has since been assigned to be part of the People's Liberation Army Navy and its headquarters have been moved to Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, but the fleet continues to patrol the East China Sea. Its flagship is 150 Changchun.

The fleet was used in a support role during the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) invasion of the Kuomintang-held island of Yijiangshan on 14 January 1955. It has engaged in numerous other battles against the Taiwanese military. It has also operated in support of the South Sea Fleet against the People's Army of Vietnam, particularly in the 1980s.

The fleet would have a key role in any invasion of Taiwan, and one of its principal missions is to effectively support a PLA amphibious operation against that island. The fleet has been augmented by two Sovremenny-class missile destroyers, with a further 2 delivered by the end of 2006. Four Kilo class attack submarines have also joined the fleet.

Japanese battleship Hatsuse

Hatsuse (初瀬, Hatsuse) was a Shikishima-class pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial Japanese Navy by the British firm of Armstrong Whitworth in the late 1890s. The ship participated in the early stages of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, including the Battle of Port Arthur on the second day of the war. She was involved in the subsequent operations until she struck two mines off Port Arthur in May 1904. The second mine detonated one of her magazines and Hatsuse sank almost immediately afterwards with the loss of over half her crew.

Japanese destroyer Asashimo

Asashimo (朝霜, "Morning Frost") was a Yūgumo-class destroyer of the Imperial Japanese Navy. She was among the several ships sunk during Operation Ten-Go by attacking US aircraft in 1945.

Japanese destroyer Hamakaze (1940)

Hamakaze (浜風, "Beach Wind") was one of 19 Kagerō-class destroyers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy during the 1930s.

Japanese destroyer Isokaze (1939)

Isokaze (磯風, "Wind on the Beach") was one of 19 Kagerō-class destroyers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy during the 1930s.

Kokuba River

The Kokuba River (国場川, Kokubagawa) is a river in Naha, Okinawa, and is the hydrographic resource for domestic urban fresh water. A number of geographical places on Okinawa bear its name, such as Lake Man Park (漫湖公園) and Kokuba Danchi (国場団地). The river flows into the East China Sea.

Mayasan Maru

Mayasan Maru was a Japanese landing craft depot ship used extensively to transport Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) troops during 1943 and 1944. After avoiding damage in seven separate submarine attacks in earlier convoys, she was sunk in the East China Sea by the submarine USS Picuda on 17 November 1944 while part of Convoy Hi-81. The sinking caused one of the highest maritime casualty counts of World War II. Some 3,536 lives were lost.

Mount Putuo

Mount Putuo (Chinese: 普陀山; pinyin: Pǔtúo Shān; literally: '(from Sanskrit) Mount Potalaka') is an island southeast of Shanghai, in Zhoushan prefecture of Zhejiang province, China. It is a renowned site in Chinese Buddhism, and is considered the bodhimanda of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Guanyin). Mount Putuo is one of the four sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism, the others being Mount Wutai, Mount Jiuhua, and Mount Emei (Bodhimandas for Manjusri, Ksitigarbha, and Samantabhadra respectively).

Mount Putuo lies in the East China Sea and incorporates the beauty of both mountain and sea. Mountain Putuo is at 29°58′3~30°02′3 north latitude, 122°21′6~122°24′9 east longitude. Its area is approximately 12.5 square kilometres (4.8 sq mi) and there are numerous famous temples. Every year on the 19th day of the 2nd lunar month, 19th day of the 6th lunar month, and 19th day of the 9th lunar month of the Chinese calendar, it welcomes millions of people for the celebration of the birth of Guanyin.

Operation Ten-Go

Operation Ten-Go (天号作戦, Ten-gō Sakusen) was a Japanese naval operation plan in 1945, consisting of four likely scenarios. Its first scenario, Operation Heaven One (or Ten-ichi-gō 天一号) became the last major Japanese naval operation in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The resulting engagement is also known as the Battle of the East China Sea.

In April 1945, the Japanese battleship Yamato (the largest battleship in the world), along with nine other Japanese warships, embarked from Japan on a deliberate suicide attack upon Allied forces engaged in the battle of Okinawa. The Japanese force was attacked, stopped, and almost destroyed by U.S. carrier-borne aircraft before reaching Okinawa. Yamato and five other Japanese warships were sunk.

The battle demonstrated U.S. air supremacy in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater by this stage in the war and the vulnerability of surface ships without air cover to aerial attack. The battle also exhibited Japan's willingness to sacrifice entire ships, even the pride of its fleet, in desperate kamikaze attacks aimed at slowing the Allied advance on the Japanese home islands.

Pingtan Island

Pingtan or Haitan Island is an island off the east coast of Fujian Province, China, south of the complex estuary of the Min River. It is the largest island in Fujian and the fifth-largest island in China.

Salamander shark

The salamander shark or salamander catshark (Parmaturus pilosus) is a little known catshark that inhabits a range from Japan and the East China Sea, on the upper to middle continental slope at depths of 358–895 m. Specimens of this species can attain a total length of at least 64 cm. This catshark is a potential bycatch of trawl fisheries operating within its range, but no details are available. There are high levels of squalene in this catshark's liver. The reproduction of this catshark is oviparous.

Sanchi (tanker)

Sanchi was the final name of a 2008-built Panamanian-flagged Suezmax crude oil tanker that was operated by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) under a variety of ship registries and names. On January 6, 2018, it collided with a cargo ship, CF Crystal in the East China Sea and caught fire. After drifting for eight days and several explosions Sanchi sank, causing extensive pollution.

Senkaku Islands

The Senkaku Islands (尖閣諸島, Senkaku-shotō, variants: 尖閣群島 Senkaku-guntō and 尖閣列島 Senkaku-rettō) are a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. They are located roughly due east of Mainland China, northeast of Taiwan, west of Okinawa Island, and north of the southwestern end of the Ryukyu Islands. They are also known as the Diaoyu Islands or Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands (Chinese: 钓鱼岛及其附属岛屿; pinyin: Diàoyúdǎo jí qí fùshǔ dǎoyǔ; also simply 钓鱼岛) in Mainland China, the Diaoyutai Islands (Chinese: 釣魚台列嶼; pinyin: Diàoyútái liè yǔ) in Taiwan, and the Pinnacle Islands.As a result of the discovery of potential undersea oil reserves in 1968 in the area and the 1971 transfer of administrative control of the islands from the United States to Japan, the latter's sovereignty over the territory is disputed by both the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (also known as Taiwan).China claims the discovery and ownership of the islands from the 14th century, while Japan maintained ownership of the islands from 1895 until its surrender at the end of World War II. The United States administered the islands as part of the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands from 1945 until 1972, when the islands returned to Japanese control under the Okinawa Reversion Agreement between the United States and Japan.The islands are disputed between Japan and China and between Japan and Taiwan. Despite the diplomatic stalemate between mainland China and Taiwan, both governments agree that the islands are part of Taiwan as part of Toucheng Township in Yilan County. Japan regards the islands as a part of the city of Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture and acknowledges the claims of neither China nor Taiwan, but has not allowed the Ishigaki administration to develop the islands.

Shortnose demon catshark

The shortnose demon catshark (Apristurus internatus) is a catshark of the family Scyliorhinidae found only in deep water in the East China Sea. Its length is up to 40 cm. A. internatus is known only from the holotype (a 49.1-cm-total length female) and a paratype (a 40.3-cm male), both caught in the East China Sea, probably taken as bycatch in deepwater trawl fisheries. Insufficient information is available to assess this species' conservation status. The reproduction of this catshark is oviparous.

Taiwan Strait

The Taiwan Strait is a 180-kilometer (110 mi)-wide strait separating the island of Taiwan from mainland China. The strait is currently classified as part of the South China Sea and borders the East China Sea to the north. It is 130 km (81 mi) wide at its narrowest.

Standard Mandarin
Hanyu Pinyin1. Dōng Hǎi
2. Dōng Zhōngguó Hǎi
Bopomofo1. ㄉㄨㄥ ㄏㄞˇ
ㄉㄨㄥ ㄓㄨㄥ ㄍㄨㄛˊ ㄏㄞˇ
Romanization1. ton he
2. ton tson koh he
Romanization1. dung24 hoi31
2. dung24 dung24 gued2 hoi31
Yue: Cantonese
Jyutping1. dung1 hoi2
2. dung1 zung1 gwok3 hoi2
Southern Min
Hokkien POJ1. tong-hái
2. tong tiong-kok hái
Eastern Min
Fuzhou BUC1. dĕ̤ng-hāi
2. dĕ̤ng dṳ̆ng-guók hāi
Revised Romanizationdongjungguk-hae
RomanizationHigashi Shina Kai
Arctic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
Indian Ocean
Pacific Ocean
Southern Ocean
Endorheic basins

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