The concept of marine environmental protection and its development was introduced to the People's Republic of China in the 1980s. This followed the enactment of the Environmental Protection Law (1979, 1989), a revision to the Constitution, and the adoption of international environmental laws. The Chinese Marine Environmental Protection Law (MEPL) was promulgated in 1983 after China signed the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. Both national environmental laws and various international conventions and agreements influenced the MEPL. For example, the MEPL closely follows provisions outlined by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and other international treaties. China has concerns about marine pollution not only within its own territory but outside its jurisdiction as well. Thus, the MEPL explicitly states that the provisions of the law apply to areas beyond China's territorial sea. As provided by the MEPL, China has the right to assert jurisdiction over foreign vessels beyond its territorial sea when they engage in activities that cause pollution to China's environment. However, questions arise as to China's coastal state jurisdiction. China's view on sovereignty is a controversial issue, and it is unclear whether the MEPL can be invoked to confer liability in waters outside of China's jurisdiction. Despite uncertainty over the jurisdiction issue, the MEPL is a significant and comprehensive law for marine protection. It regulates five major sources of marine pollution: coastal construction projects, off-shore oil exploration and exploitation, land-source pollutants, vessel pollution, and the dumping of wastes at sea. The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief comparison of the MEPL and relevant international laws and an understanding of critical issues covered by the MEPL.

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