Not just India, China’s new map for 2023 angers 5 other countries too
India rejected China’s territorial claims a day after the “standard map” was issued, with MEA saying a strong protest had been lodged with the Chinese side
NEW DELHI: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have opposed China’s so-called “standard map”, which has already been the subject of a strong protest by India over the inclusion of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh within Chinese borders.
The 2023 edition of the “standard map”, issued by the Chinese natural resources ministry on Monday, incorporates Taiwan, which China claims is part of its territory, and a large swathe of the South China Sea, where the Chinese side is involved in multiple territorial disputes.
Vietnam was the latest country to join the protests against the map. Vietnamese foreign ministry spokeswoman Pham Thu Hang reiterated the country’s consistent position regarding sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) islands and rejected any maritime claims by China based on the so-called “dotted line” in the East Sea.
The new map and China’s “dotted line” claim are a violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the islands as well as the country’s sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its waters as stipulated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), she said on Thursday.
Maritime claims based on the “dotted line”, as depicted in the map, are void and violate international law, particularly UNCLOS, the spokeswoman said.
Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi reacted to the development on Thursday by saying that the drawing of territorial lines, including China’s “standard map”, must be in accordance with international laws.
“The drawing of any [territorial] lines, any claims, must be in accordance with UNCLOS 1982,” Marsudi was quoted as saying on Thursday by Antara news agency. She said Indonesia’s position on territorial sovereignty has always been consistent.
Indonesia’s Natuna islet cluster, located within the country’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, is claimed by China within its “nine-dash line” over the South China Sea.
Malaysia’s foreign ministry, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said the country does not recognise China’s unilateral claims in the South China Sea, covering the Malaysian maritime area, as outlined in the “standard map”. The statement reiterated that Malaysia has consistently rejected claims of sovereignty and jurisdiction by any foreign party in relation to the South China Sea issue and that China’s map is not binding on the country.
The statement further said the South China Sea issue is a “complex and sensitive” matter that needs to be handled peacefully and rationally through dialogue and negotiations based on international law, including the UNCLOS.
Malaysian foreign minister Zambry Abdul Kadir was quoted by the local media as saying on Thursday that the country will send a protest note to China over the map.
The Philippines too rejected China’s map on Thursday because of the dotted line showing Chinese boundaries in the South China Sea. A statement from the foreign ministry said the “latest attempt to legitimise China’s purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law”, especially the UNCLOS.
The Philippines called on China to “act responsibly and abide by its obligations under UNCLOS and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award”, the statement said, referring to a ruling given in the country’s favour by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry too has rejected the Chinese map, with spokesman Jeff Liu saying this week that the “People’s Republic of China has never ruled Taiwan”. He added, “No matter how the Chinese government twists its position on Taiwan’s sovereignty, it cannot change the objective fact of our country’s existence.”
India had rejected China’s territorial claims a day after the “standard map” was issued, with external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi saying a strong protest had been lodged with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels.
“We reject these claims as they have no basis. Such steps by the Chinese side only complicate the resolution of the boundary question,” he said.
The Chinese side has doubled down on the “standard map”, with foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin saying on Thursday that China’s position on the South China Sea is “consistent and clear”. Asked about protests against the map by several countries, he added: “We hope parties concerned can view it in an objective and rational light.”
On Wednesday, Wang had described the release of the map as a “routine practice in China’s exercise of sovereignty in accordance with the law”. He added, “We hope relevant sides can stay objective and calm, and refrain from over-interpreting the issue.”