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C3S Monograph IV: An Assessment on China’s Deep-Sea Mining and Implications on India ; By Aishwarya

Updated: Sep 1, 2022

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C3S Monograph: 04/2021

C3S launches its Monograph initiative. A monograph is a single topic research summary of the knowledge surrounding an issue or a problem. It summarises the issue giving clear, concise, and complete information describing all facets of a particular issue including a detailed illustration in the form of images, data, and facts. It also includes recommendations for action and predictions on the future course of an issue.

Monographs are available for download as PDFs.


The international system, with the advent of the industrial revolution, advancement in technological expertise and the rising demand and quest for metals and minerals has led to the resurgence of interest towards the exploration and exploitation of deep seabed resources (Shen, 2018). The deep seabed also referred to as the ‘common heritage of humankind’ covers around fifty-four percent of the world’s ocean and is rich in minerals. It is regulated by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) which, limits beyond the national jurisdiction (Jaeckel, 2015). ISA has explored the presence of Polymetallic Nodules, Cobalt-rich Ferromanganese Crusts and Polymetallic Sulphides in few explored areas such as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (Kanae Komaki, 2020), the Indian Ocean, Mid Atlantic Ridge, South Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. ISA works on a contract basis with states for the seabed exploration of the minerals by allocation of a certain limited block to states. Out of 31 agreements of ISA, China has managed to sign five contracts. China has been deeply interested and keens on deep seabed mining considering the depletion of land minerals as well as the ecological and social repercussions such as, incidents of waste of lithium, graphite etc. which destroyed entire villages in China. ‘China would be the first country to begin mining seabed minerals’, according to ISA General Secretary Michael Lodge, if international rules for exploitation are approved. China has also come up with the law for exploration and exploitation of resources in the deep seabed which came into force by May 2020 (Nengye Liu, 2016). The China Ocean Mineral Resource R&D Association (COMRA) and the China Minmetals have been spearheading the ambition of China (Xin Huang, 2017). Beijing has undergone remarkable technological advancement by launching ‘Three Dragon,’ the Jiaolong, the Qianlong Series and the Sea Dragon series to conduct comprehensive scientific exploratory research and has acquired first-hand knowledge related to mining activities in the explored areas. Through such efforts, China is viewed as a rule-abiding nation in the international community. With certain cases of violation of international law persisting in the South China Sea disputes and Chinese expansion in the maritime domain, it is really important to comprehend China’s deep seabed mining as it will have ramifications over energy security as well as environmental security. This paper aims to understand the concept of deep seabed mining as well as to understand the role of ISA in the regulation process. This paper will try to throw light on the Chinese efforts towards seabed exploration and exploitation. The paper will also try to analyse the effect of seabed mining on energy security as well as environmental security. This paper will also try to analyse its implications for India.

Read the full monograph at this link: 

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About the Author

(Aishwarya R J is a second-year Master’s student at the Department of Geopolitics and International Relations, Manipal Academy of Higher Education. Graduated in B A International Relations, from the Central University of Kerala. Areas of interest include Maritime Security, India’s National Security, Indian Foreign Policy, Defense Studies, and China. The views expressed in the monograph are personal and do not reflect the views of C3S.)

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