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Malaysia, Philippines join India in protesting China's new map staking claims over disputed territories

China’s foreign ministry said that it hopes that “relevant parties” can see its new standard map in an “objective and rational way”.


Malaysia, Philippines join India in protesting China's new map staking claims over disputed territories

Beijing claims nearly all of the strategically vital South China Sea, including waters approaching the coasts of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. (Photo: AFP/Ted Aljibe)

SINGAPORE: Malaysia and the Philippines are following India’s move in protesting against China for its newly published map staking claims over disputed territories while Indonesia says that the drawing of territorial lines must be in accordance with international laws.

China’s Ministry of Natural Resources on Monday (Aug 28) issued the "China Standard Map Edition 2023", which lays claims over large swathes of the South China Sea also disputed by Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei, as well as several land areas in India and Russia.

It features a “10-dash” line - with an additional dash to the east of Taiwan - a break from the usual nine-dash line Beijing has been using in recent years to stake its claims over the South China Sea.

The map's release comes just ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grouping's summit in Indonesia from Sep 5 to 7 and the Group of 20 (G20) Summit from Sep 9 to 10 in India, where Chinese leaders are expected to attend.


Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir on Thursday (Aug 31) said that the country will send a protest note to China following its claim on the South China Sea as outlined in the new map, The Star reported.

This comes after his ministry had earlier said that it does not recognise China's claims in the South China Sea, adding that the map holds no binding authority over Malaysia which marks its Independence Day - or Hari Merdeka - on Thursday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Hari Merdeka event, Mr Zambry said that Malaysia’s next course of action following the ministry’s statement was to send a protest note to China.

“That is the practice,” he was quoted as saying by The Star.

Malaysia’s foreign ministry on Wednesday had said that the map had among other things, displayed China's unilateral maritime claims that encroach upon the country's maritime areas in Sabah and Sarawak.

Bernama reported that the ministry stressed that Malaysia consistently rejects any foreign party's claims to sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over maritime features or maritime areas based on the 1979 Malaysia New Map.

“Malaysia also views the South China Sea issue as a complex and sensitive matter,” it reportedly said. 

It also underscored the need for the issue to be managed peacefully and rationally through dialogue and negotiations based on provisions of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982).

"Malaysia remains committed to cooperating to ensure all parties implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea comprehensively and effectively,” said Malaysia’s foreign ministry.

"Malaysia is also committed to the effective and substantive negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, with the goal of finalising the COC as soon as possible.”


Separately, the Philippines has filed a protest against China over its new map with overlapping claims over the South China Sea, a crucial waterway vital to international shipping lanes and an area of increasing contestation between China and the US.

"This latest attempt to legitimise China’s purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law, particularly the UNCLOS 1982,” it said in a statement as reported by Bloomberg.

Also weighing in was Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi, who said on Thursday that any drawing of territorial lines must be in accordance with UNCLOS 1982.

“Any line drawing, any claim made must be in accordance with UNCLOS 1982,” was quoted as saying by Antara after a meeting at Indonesia’s Parliament complex.

She added that Indonesia’s position on the issue has been consistent.

“Indonesia’s position is not a new position, but a position that has always been conveyed consistently,” said Mdm Marsudi.

Indonesia is not a claimant state of the South China Sea, but its Natuna islet cluster within its 200-nautical-mile EEZ is also claimed by Beijing within its nine-dash line over the South China Sea.


Indian authorities had on Tuesday issued a “strong protest” to China, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). 

China’s new map reportedly claims ownership over land that New Delhi says is theirs, including territory close to where the neighbours battled in 2020.

“We have today lodged a strong protest through diplomatic channels with the Chinese side on the so-called 2023 ‘standard map’ of China that lays claim to India’s territory,” India’s foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi reportedly said in a statement.

“We reject these claims as they have no basis. Such steps by the Chinese side only complicate the resolution of the boundary question.”

India has been wary of its northern neighbour’s growing military assertiveness and their 3,500km shared frontier has been a perennial source of tension.

According to AFP, New Delhi said that two areas on the map released on Beijing’s state-owned Global Times newspaper belong to India.

One was India’s northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China considers to be part of Tibet, and where the Asian giants fought a full-scale border war in 1962.

The second was the Kashmiri region of Aksai Chin, a high-altitude strategic corridor linking Tibet to western China.

Following this, China doubled down on its new map, which it called a routine exercise, and asked India to refrain from "over-interpreting" the move. 

According to the Times of India, when asked about India's protest, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said: "On Aug 28, the ministry of natural resources of China released the 2023 edition of the standard map. 

“It is a routine practice in China's exercise of sovereignty in accordance with the law. We hope relevant sides can stay objective and calm, and refrain from over-interpreting the issue." 

On Thursday, China’s foreign ministry reiterated that it hopes that “relevant parties” can see its new standard map in an “objective and rational way”.

Reuters reported that foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin made the remarks at a press briefing when asked to comment on reports of some countries, including the Philippines, India and Malaysia, protesting the new map.


China’s map has also drawn objections from Taiwan, with its foreign ministry spokesman Jeff Liu saying on Aug 28 that the “People's Republic of China has never ruled Taiwan”. 

“These are universally recognised facts and the status quo in the international community," he added.

This is not the first time that China’s publication of a map has drawn objections.

In 2014, China unveiled an update to its official national map which emphasised its “nine-dash” line claim to the South China Sea and made the islands and territories within that region appear more integral to China’s territorial integrity than previous maps, according to The Diplomat. 

This map drew a response from India for continuing to show the disputed territory of Arunachal Pradesh as Chinese territory.

In 2012, the publication of a map in new Chinese passports drew the ire of several countries, with Vietnam and India both voicing their disapproval. 

According to TIME Magazine, the map included parts of India - namely Aksai Chin and most of Arunachal Pradesh - as well as shoals and archipelagos contested by several Southeast Asian nations. 

And just last month, Vietnam banned the blockbuster film Barbie after it featured a scene that shows China’s unilaterally claimed territory in the South China Sea, Reuters reported. 

Source: Agencies/ya(as)


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