The Yellow Sea (Huang Hai) is the overly exploited gulf that lies between China and Korea; it is known for its omnipresent fishing vessels and oil refineries. Its name comes from yellow silt deposited in its waters by the Huang (Yellow) River.

The Yellow Sea (Huang Hai), the shallow gulf between China and Korea, is 870 kilometers long from the south to the north and 556 kilometers wide from the east to the west and covers an area of 378,600 square kilometers. The northern part comprises the inlet of Bohai Bay in the northwest, which is almost enclosed by the Liaodong Peninsula in the northeast and the Shandong Peninsula in south, and the Korea Bay in the northeast. The southern part of the Yellow Sea borders on the Shandong Peninsula in the north and the Chinese mainland in the west and meets the East China Sea where the Yangzi (Chang) River flows into the sea. In the east, it borders on Korea and the Korea Strait. The Yellow Sea, which has received its name from the yellowish silt deposited mainly by the Huang (Yellow) River, has a warm temperate climate. With an average depth of about forty meters, it is one of China’s best fishing grounds.

The entire Yellow Sea, and especially its coastal regions, is presently being overexploited by Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese fishing vessels, and the environmental problems are critical. Important ports and fishing bases on the Chinese coast are Qingdao and Yantai in Shandong Province and Dalian on the Liaodong Peninsula in Liaoning Province. Bohai Bay in the northwest has been the traditional location for salt works. Large offshore petroleum deposits have been discovered there, and a number of oil refineries have been set up.

The Battle of the Yellow Sea

The Battle of the Yellow Sea, which took place on 10 August 1904, is considered a critical moment of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905.

The Battle of the Yellow Sea was the closest and, except for Tsushima, the most decisive naval engagement of the war. Encountering [Russian Admiral] Vitgeft’s squadron in the early afternoon, [Japanese Admiral] Togo’s first moves were designed to put himself between it and Port Arthur, so as to prevent its return and force a major fleet action. However when it had become clear that the Russians had no intention of going back but were making for Vladivostok, Togo was so far behind the Russian fleet that he had to waste hours in detouring around Vitgeft’s weaker vessels so as to catch up with the battleships at the head of the Russian line. It was 1743 hrs when he opened fire on the leading Russian ships. From then until dusk Togo’s First Division and the six Russian battleships banged away at each other on almost even terms, with Mikasa and Tsarevich sharing the brunt of the punishment.

Source: The Russo-Japanese War Research Society. (n.d.). The battle of the Yellow Sea. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from

Further Reading

Choi, B. H. (1980). A tidal model of the Yellow Sea and the Eastern China Sea. Seoul: KORDI Report.

Chough, Sung Kwun, Homa J. Lee, & S. H. Yoon. (2000). Marine geology of Korean seas. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Ichiye, T. (Ed.). (1986). Japan, East China and Yellow Sea studies. Oxford, U.K.: Pergamon Press.

Jin Xianshi. (1996). Variations in fish community structure and ecology of major species in the Yellow/Bohai Sea. Bergen, Norway: Universitetet i Bergen.

Morgan, J. & Valencia, M. J. (Eds.) (1992). Atlas for marine policy in East Asian Seas. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Source: Nielsen, Bent (2009). Yellow Sea. In Linsun Cheng, et al. (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, pp. 2567–2568. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

Yellow Sea (Huáng H?i ??)|Huáng H?i ?? (Yellow Sea)

Download the PDF of this article