Across Asia, there has been widespread criticism against China's newly released territorial map. This map includes what is now a "ten-dash line" — an extended version of China's "nine-dash line," which it uses to stake its territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Notably, this expansion has led to objections not just from countries in territorial disputes with China, like the Philippines and Vietnam, but also from Taiwan. Furthermore, China's one-sided assertion of territorial rights could escalate tensions at international conferences in Asia in September.
Beijing Claims Almost the Entire South China Sea
China's Ministry of Natural Resources unveiled its new "standard map" on August 28. The "nine-dash line" now encroaches into the waters off the eastern coast of Taiwan to form a "ten-dash line." In fact, the map claims Chinese ownership of almost the entire South China Sea.
Additionally, in the Himalayan area, the map designates India's northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of Chinese territory. China calls the state "South Tibet."
Protesting over the map, the Philippines issued a statement on August 31. It noted, "This latest attempt to legitimize China's purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law."
The Philippines also demanded China adhere to The Hague Tribunal's ruling of 2016, which rejected China's claim to sovereignty over the South China Sea.
On the same day, Vietnam released a statement saying that Beijing "violated Vietnam's sovereignty over the islands […] and jurisdiction rights over Vietnam's sea regions." Similarly, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry spokesperson rejected the map, stating that Taiwan was "absolutely not a part of the People's Republic of China."
Furthermore, Malaysia condemned China for asserting control over waters that overlap with its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coast of Borneo (Kalimantan). India said that China's map only serves to "complicate the resolution of the boundary question."
Impact on ASEAN and G20 Summits
The ASEAN summit is currently being held in Indonesia, and the G20 summit is scheduled to begin in India in a few days. In the run-up to the meetings, China and ASEAN have been preparing a "code of conduct" to prevent conflicts in the South China Sea. However, China's recent territorial assertiveness will likely affect discussions.
Concerns are reportedly spreading in India, the chair of the G20 meeting, that the release of China's territorial map could affect the summit proceedings.
Furthermore, the online edition of the Indian newspaper Hindustan Times said that by releasing the map, China indicated that it "treats India as an adversary and will put coercive pressure on India."
But Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin justified Beijing's territorial claims during a press briefing on August 31. He stated that China hopes the relevant parties can see the map in an "objective and rational" way.
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(Read the article in Japanese.)
Author: Hiroshi Mori