PH rejects ‘2023 version’ of China map: ‘No basis’
The Philippines on Thursday refused to recognize China’s latest map, which showed a new 10-dash line that still encompassed parts of the country’s 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and pressed Beijing to abide by an international arbitral ruling on its maritime claims.
Malaysia, its Southeast Asian neighbor, and India, with whom China had engaged in violent clashes over boundary disputes, also strongly opposed the inclusion of parts of their own territories in the new Chinese map.
“The Philippines rejects the 2023 version of China’s Standard Map issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the People’s Republic of China on Aug. 28, 2023, because of its inclusion of the nine-dashed line (now a 10-dashed line) that supposedly shows China’s boundaries in the South China Sea,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.
“This latest attempt to legitimize China’s purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos),” it said.
The 2016 arbitral award invalidated China’s previous nine-dash-line demarcation of its claim to nearly the entire South China Sea, the DFA said.
Quoting the arbitral tribunal’s ruling, the DFA said that the previous nine-dash lines were “contrary” to Unclos “and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention.” The award is supported by the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, India, South Korea, France, Germany, Austria, Australia, the Netherlands and the European Union.
In its latest map, China placed the 10th dash line east of Taiwan to indicate ownership and sovereignty over the independently governed island.
The Philippines called on China to “act responsibly and abide by its obligations under Unclos and the final and binding 2016 arbitral award,” the DFA said.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the release of the map was a “routine practice” in exercising its “sovereignty in accordance with the law.”
“We hope relevant sides can stay objective and calm, and refrain from overinterpreting the issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Monday.
Malaysia, which also claims parts of the South China Sea, “does not recognize” the new map.
It called the map an example of “China’s unilateral maritime claims” in the strategic waterway as it included Kuala Lumpur’s maritime claims off Sabah Island and Sarawak state as depicted by its “Peta Baru Malaysia 1979” map.
‘No binding effect’
“The (Chinese) map has no binding effect on Malaysia,” its government said on Wednesday.
Aside from the 10-dash line, another controversial inclusion in Beijing’s new map was India’s Arunachal Pradesh state and parts of Jammu and Kashmir region.
India’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a “strong protest” with China.
“We reject these claims as they have no basis. Such steps by the Chinese side only complicate the resolution of the boundary question,” it said on Tuesday.
Former Sen. Orlando Mercado said the new map was an example of the Asian superpower’s expansionist intentions.
“Adding one more line to their expanding claims of dominion, only shows there is no limit to their imagination,” Mercado told the Inquirer on Wednesday.
He was the defense secretary when the BRP Sierra Madre was intentionally grounded at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in 1999 to serve as one of the country’s military outposts in that part of the West Philippine Sea.
The release of the Chinese map follows the harassment and the use of a water cannon against one of two Filipino vessels bringing supplies to the men on the Sierra Madre last month.
The Chinese action then was strongly protested by the Philippines and roundly denounced by its allies.
National Security Adviser Eduardo Año condemned China’s move and reiterated the Philippines’ maritime entitlement as laid down in the arbitral award.
“We do not even recognize the nine-dashed line, [how] much more the 10-dashed line,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.
“Our Armed Forces, our uniformed services, our government will do everything in its capacity to ensure that we are protecting our national interest,” Año said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Beijing also published a 10-dash line map on June 7, 2013, which the DFA strongly protested against in a confidential note verbale.
“A decade has passed and China still seems not to have come to its senses,” she said.
The senator urged Filipinos to resist China’s “absurd” maritime claims using “this ridiculous map” and warned that Beijing would continue to spread fake news and fund sympathetic mouthpieces.
“We must push back. We must not rest until China stops her absurdity,” Hontiveros said.
She also suggested that the Philippines publish an updated map of its own that clearly shows the country’s EEZ, continental shelves and territorial waters in the West Philippine Sea.
Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares agreed and called on President Marcos to publish a Philippine map based, among others, on the arbitral award.
“It is a concrete and strong message of the Philippines standing by its territories,” he said.
China’s latest map will only “galvanize more support” for the Philippines and the 2016 arbitral award, according to Senate President Miguel Zubiri.
“There’s a saying ‘misery loves company.’ More countries in the world now become miserable with China’s latest claims,” he said.