The Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan have rejected as baseless a map released by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that denotes its claims to sovereignty including in the South China Sea.
Beijing released the map in late August 2023 of its notorious U-shaped line covering about 90% of the South China Sea, a source of many of the disputes in one of the world’s most contested waterways, where more than $3 trillion of trade passes each year.
The Philippines in late August called on the PRC “to act responsibly and abide by its obligations” under international law and a 2016 arbitral ruling that declared the line had no legal grounds.
Malaysia said it had filed a diplomatic protest over the map.
The PRC claims the line is based on its historic maps.
Its U-shaped line loops as far as 1,500 kilometers south of its Hainan island and cuts into the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
“This latest attempt to legitimize China’s purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law,” the Philippine foreign ministry said.
Its Malaysian counterpart in a statement said the new map holds no binding authority over Malaysia, which “also views the South China Sea as a complex and sensitive matter.”
The map was different from a narrower version submitted by the PRC to the United Nations in 2009 of the South China Sea that included its so-called “nine-dash line.”
The latest map was of a broader geographical area and had a line with 10 dashes that included democratically governed Taiwan. China also published a map with a 10th dash in 2013.
Asked about the latest map, Taiwan foreign ministry spokesperson Jeff Liu said Taiwan was “absolutely not a part of the People’s Republic of China.”
Beijing declared a “national map awareness publicity week” in August, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.
Asked why the Chinese government had released the latest map, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing had been unambiguous about its territory.
“China’s position on the South China Sea issue has always been clear. The competent authorities of China regularly update and release various types of standard maps every year,” he told a regular briefing.
India said it had lodged a strong protest with China over a new map that lays claim to India’s territory, the latest irritant in testy ties between the Asian nations.