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Book launch – China’s Law of the Sea: The New Rules of Maritime Order with author Dr Isaac Kardon

13 Jun Kardon event listing1

The Centre for Grand Strategy and the Royal Navy Strategic Studies Centre invites you to attend a book talk with the author of the recently published book China’s Law of the Sea: The New Rules of Maritime Order, Dr Isaac Kardon, followed by comments from Cdr Caroline Tuckett and then a Q&A session to be chaired by Prof Alessio Patalano. This book is an in-depth examination of the law and geopolitics of China’s maritime disputes and their implications for the rules of the international law of the sea.


About the Book

China’s Law of the Sea is the first comprehensive study of the law and geopolitics of China’s maritime disputes. It provides a rigorous empirical account of whether and how China is changing “the rules” of international order—specifically, the international law of the sea.


Conflicts over specific rules lie at the heart of the disputes, which are about much more than sovereignty over islands and rocks in the South and East China Seas. Instead, the main contests concern the strategic maritime space associated with those islands. To consolidate control over this vital maritime space, China’s leaders have begun to implement “China’s law of the sea”: building domestic legal institutions, bureaucratic organizations, and a naval and maritime law enforcement apparatus to establish China’s preferred maritime rules on the water and in the diplomatic arena.


Isaac B. Kardon examines China’s laws and policies to defend, exploit, study, administer, surveil, and patrol disputed waters. He also considers other claimants’ reactions to these Chinese practices, because other states must acquiesce for China’s preferences to become international rules. China’s maritime disputes offer unique insights into the nature and scope of China’s challenge to international order.


About the speakers

Isaac B. Kardon is Senior Fellow for China Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was formerly Assistant Professor at the U.S. Naval War College, at the China Maritime Studies Institute, where he taught Chinese foreign and security policy to military officers and national security professionals. Isaac’s research centers on China’s maritime disputes and the international law of the sea, PRC global port development, PLA overseas basing, and China-Pakistan relations. Isaac’s writing appears in International Security, Security Studies, Foreign Affairs, the Naval War College Review, as well as other scholarly and policy publications. Isaac’s book, China’s Law of the Sea: The New Rules of Maritime Order (Yale, 2023) analyzes whether and how China is “making the rules” of regional and global order. Kardon earned a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University, an M.Phil in Modern Chinese Studies from Oxford University, and a B.A. in History from Dartmouth College. He was a China & the World post-doctoral fellow at Princeton University, and has held visiting appointments at NYU School of Law, Academia Sinica, and the PRC National Institute for South China Sea Studies. He studied Chinese (Mandarin) at Peking University, Tsinghua University, Hainan University, and National Taiwan Normal University.


Cdr Caroline Tuckett joined the Royal Navy (RN) as a Logistics Officer in 2006. Her first assignment was at sea as the Deputy Logistics Officer of a destroyer, with deployments around the globe.

Selected for the Naval Legal Service in 2008, she completed 3 years of training to qualify as a Barrister. Since then, her assignments have included Legal Adviser to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines with a number of overseas deployments, and a 10 month tour to the United Kingdom Maritime Component Command (UKMCC) in Bahrain as the Legal Adviser for both UKMCC and the Combined Maritime Force, a maritime coalition of 34 nations.

In 2020 Cdr Tuckett completed a Masters by Research in International Law through the University of Exeter, exploring the legal issues of sub-threshold operations in the maritime environment, with a particular focus on the South China Sea. She then became the lead legal adviser in International and Operational Law within the RN. A current focus in her work is the applicability of international maritime law to the military operation of unmanned vessels and she has provided evidence to the House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee on this topic. As a result of her work regarding the legal issues surrounding maritime autonomy, she was named the Armed Forces Barrister of the Year in the Employed Bar Awards 2022.

Prof Alessio Patalano specialises in maritime strategy and doctrine, Japanese military history and strategy, East Asian Security, and Italian defence policy. From 2006 to 2015, he was visiting professor in Strategy at the Italian Naval War College (ISMM), Venice. In Japan, Prof. Patalano has been a visiting professor at Aoyama Gakuin University and at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), both in Tokyo, and currently is Adjunct Fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, Temple University Japan and Visiting Professor at the Japan Maritime Command and Staff College (JMCSC). At KCL, Prof. Patalano is the Director of the Asian Security and Warfare Research Group the leading UK forum for research and education on East Asia and the King’s Japan Programme. Prof. Patalano is also a senior fellow with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and at Policy Exchange, he leading think tanks on defence and security matters in the UK.

At this event

Alessio Patalano

Alessio Patalano

Professor of War & Strategy in East Asia

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