Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 77 ›› Issue (9): 2374-2388.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202209016

• Territory Resources and Spatial Governance • Previous Articles     Next Articles

"Marine ontology" and marine territorial governance in South China Sea

LIU Xuanyu1,2(), LIU Yungang2,3()   

  1. 1. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2. School of Geography & The Center of Administrative Division and Spatial Governance, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
    3. Beidou Research Institute, South China Normal University, Foshan 528225, Guangdong, China
  • Received:2021-09-17 Revised:2022-07-10 Online:2022-09-25 Published:2022-11-25
  • Contact: LIU Yungang;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42142028);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42071187);National Social Science Foundation of China(20VHQ002)


For a long time, the ocean has been located at the edge of the society, and the ocean governance inevitably falls into the terrain-centrism. This paper criticized the marine territorial governance of terrestrial ontology and its territorial logic, and constructed the ocean as a four-dimensional space-time where volume space meets dynamic time. It pointed out that the ocean was multi-dimensional, fluid, nonlinear and non-objective, and constructs a framework for analyzing the ocean territory, which is characterized by volume territory, mobile territory and dynamic territory. Furthermore, it is applied to the theory and policy cognition of maritime territorial governance in the South China Sea (SCS), reconstructing the concept of "time, space and movement" that has long been shackled on the land norms, and responding to the new materialist orientation of cultural and political geography. The results show that: (1) In terms of volume control in the SCS, island expansion is an effective strategy. The expansion of islands and reefs has folded the volume of the sea into a two-dimensional territory, controlling the three-dimensional space by flattening it, and changing the geographical and spatial nature of the SCS. (2) In terms of liquidity control in the SCS, due to the fluid, scale and depth characteristics of the sea, as well as the ambiguity of the legal boundary, it is more complicated to maintain maritime security in the SCS. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the corresponding regulatory strategy to control illegal liquidity. (3) In terms of the dynamic management and control in the SCS, attention should be paid to fishermen's unique ecological ethics, and the dialogue between different ontologies and information translation should be considered for marine protection, so that the protection behavior can be more closely integrated into the local social and cultural contexts. This study provides a critical perspective for marine territorial governance from political geography and promotes the study of the relationship between human beings in human geography.

Key words: terrestrial ontology, marine ontology, marine territory, land reclamation projects, territorialization, South China Sea