China's use of lawfare to constrain US naval action may be precursor to how they will attempt same in outer space
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Both China and the United States agree that the EP-3E aircraft and the Impeccable were operating outside China's territorial sea but within China's EEZ.184 Despite the unambiguous language of the UNCLOS treaty, China continues to pursue a strategy of gradually extending its strategic depth or sovereignty in order to support offshore defensive operations.185 China's adherence to this flawed legal interpretation, reinforced by aggressive military action, demonstrates that "through an orchestrated program of scholarly articles and symposia, China is working to shape international opinion in favor of [its preferred] interpretation of the Law of the Sea by shifting scholarly views and national perspectives away from long-accepted norms of freedom of navigation and toward interpretations of increased coastal state sovereign authority."186 By doing so, China is not only distorting the settled law of the sea, but perhaps also preparing to deploy a similar strategy in the space domain.
The solutions the international community worked out to resolve some of the most contentious issues over ocean governance -- specifically, how to equitably divide up a common shared resource, how to sustainably manage the global commons for the benefit of all, and how to ensure all states have the freedom to navigate a global common -- have potential to serve as the basis for a similar agreement for outer space.