Journal of Civil Law Studies


Bing Shui


natural resources, coastal waters, property law, Chineselaw, comparative law


The ownership of, and rights to, coastal waters are exhibited on a cumulative scale ranging from commons-like to private use. As an example of a natural resource with complex and interlinked ecosystems, coastal waters give rise to many kinds of legal norms and pol-icy instruments. As shown by my investigation of China’s coastal waters, people are willing to pay for legal rights which guarantee exclusive access, regardless of the relatively high cost. The statistical data further reveals that, when coastal waters are divided, there is a negative correlation between fragmentation of the seas and sea-based production. Therefore, based on the empirical evidence, I am reasonably confident that the tragedy of the anticommons is not occurring in China’s coastal waters.

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