East China Sea

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East China Sea,

arm of the Pacific Ocean, c.480,000 sq mi (1,243,200 sq km), bounded on the E by the Kyushu and Ryukyu islands, on the S by Taiwan, and on the W by China. It is connected with the South China Sea by the Taiwan Strait and with the Sea of Japan by the Korea Strait; it opens in the N to the Yellow Sea. The Chang River empties into the sea, whose main ports are Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Fuzhou, China; and Chilung, Taiwan. Territorial control of much of the eastern half of the sea (and its oil and gas) is disputed between China and Japan.

East China Sea


(Tunghai), a semienclosed sea in the Pacific Ocean between the eastern shores of China on the west, the Chinese island of Taiwan on the south, and the Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu Island (Japan) on the east. On the north, it borders on the northern extremities of the Korea Strait with the Sea of Japan, and along a line from the south-western tip of Korea through the Saihsiu Islands to the main-land with the Yellow Sea; on the south it borders on the South China Sea along the northern outskirts of the Taiwan Straits. Area, 752,000 sq km; mean depth, 349 m; and mean volume, 263,000 cu km. The western part of the sea is a continental shelf, the depth of which increases steadily to the east and southeast from 33-47 m at the shore to 150-160 m in the open sea. The eastern part of the East China Sea is a basin with depths of up to 2,717 m; this part is joined to the sea by deep straits (up to 1,572 m) through the Ryukyu Islands.

The East China Sea has a climate of the monsoon variety. Typhoons blowing from the south from May to October (three to four a year) cause fierce storms. The mean air temperature in February varies from 5° C in the northwest to 15° C in the southeast; in August, it is approximately 26° C. The yearly precipitation varies from 1,146 mm in the west to 2,244 mm in the east, with a maximum in summer. The current in the eastern part of the sea flowing constantly north is a continuation of the warm current of the northern trade winds. In the northern part of the sea this current divides; one branch flows into the Sea of Japan, and the other flows into the ocean through straits south of Kyushu, forming the Kuroshio Current. In the western part of the sea the currents have a regular seasonal character and depend on monsoon winds.

The Yangtze brings much fresh water, causing the salinity of the sea from east to west to drop from 34.5°‰ to 30°‰ and even to 10-5°‰ (near estuaries). The winter temperature of the water varies from the northwest to the southeast from 7° C to 16° C. In summer, the surface temperature is 27-28° C. At depths of below 1,600 m the temperature is approximately 2.5° C, and the salinity approximately 34.5%0. In the west, incoming tides are semidiurnal, up to 7.5 m (Gulf of Hangchou); in the east, they are irregularly semidiurnal, up to 1.5 m in the Ryukyu Islands.

Marine flora of the East China Sea is relatively sparse on the shores of China and rich in the east. There are whales, dolphins, and sharks, and near the shores of the Ryukyu Islands, dugong and sea snakes. There are abundant Pacific sardines, drum fish of the croaker family, flounder, mackerel, tuna, gray mullet, and eel. Pacific herring, sardines, and croakers are fished; crab and lobster are trapped, and trepang is gathered. Edible seaweed is gathered, and salt is extracted from the water. Important seaways from the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan pass through the East China Sea into southern seas; the major ports of the East China Sea are Shanghai, Chilung, Ningpo, Wenchou (China), and Nagasaki (Japan).

East China Sea

part of the N Pacific, between the E coast of China and the Ryukyu Islands