China’s Fresh Map Claims Over Taiwan, Disputed Sea Stir Protests

China’s vast territorial claims in the region has reignited opposition from its neighbors, after Beijing this week released a 2023 map showing a “10-dash line” demarcation on the South China Sea.

(Bloomberg) — China’s vast territorial claims in the region has reignited opposition from its neighbors, after Beijing this week released a 2023 map showing a “10-dash line” demarcation on the South China Sea.

China’s Ministry of Natural Resources released the new map on Aug. 28, notably with a line on the east of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

“We received the news that now the nine-dash line has been extended to the 10-dash line,” Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. told reporters on Friday as he vowed to continue defending the country’s territory.

Taiwan and Vietnam also aired objections, joining India, Malaysia and the Philippines. The growing chorus of opposition to Beijing’s latest move comes days before world leaders gather in Indonesia for meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and later in India for the Group of 20 summit where the territorial disputes may be discussed.

The map “reinforces China’s claims to land and waters of its neighbors from the Himalayas to the South China Sea,” said Lucio Pitlo III, a visiting scholar at the National Chengchi University’s Department of Diplomacy in Taiwan. “It also reiterates Beijing’s position over Taiwan. The map is directed to both domestic and international audiences,’ he said.

For many years, Beijing has asserted that nearly the entire South China Sea marked by the so-called “nine-dash line” is within its territory — an assertion that overlaps with separate claims by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. A 2016 international arbitral decision that invalidated the expansive claims didn’t stop China from reclaiming and building on those maritime features.

The Philippines described Beijing’s 2023 map as the “latest attempt to legitimize China’s purported sovereignty and jurisdiction” in maritime features that the former also claims, while Vietnam said the map violates its sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel Islands.

Taiwan also opposed the territorial claims outlined in the map, saying the island has never been under the Chinese Communist Party’s control.

“Taiwan is absolutely not part of the People’s Republic of China,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jeff Liu said at a briefing on Thursday. “No matter how the PRC distorts its stance on Taiwan’s sovereignty, it can’t change the objective fact of our country’s existence.”

While neighbors expressed their outcry, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the country’s stance on this issue isn’t new. “Whatever boundary, whatever claim, has to comply with UNCLOS,” she said, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

On Tuesday, India said it lodged a “strong” diplomatic protest over the map, which shows parts of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh under China’s control, expanding from a move in April to rename 11 areas in the region as part of southern Tibet. Aksai Chin, a disputed plateau in western Himalayas claimed by India but controlled by China, was also included.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin didn’t directly respond to a question about the “10-dash line” during a regular briefing on Thursday, saying that China routinely publishes maps for public awareness and use. “We hope that relevant sides can see that in an objective and rational way,” Wang said.

The 2023 map won’t make much difference in China’s behavior in the South China Sea, according to Pitlo. “If any, the new map may offer another justification for its claims and and activities in hot spots like the South China Sea,” he said.

–With assistance from Andreo Calonzo, Samson Ellis, Norman Harsono, Ditas Lopez and Niluksi Koswanage.

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