Malaysia, Taiwan and Philippines join India in rejecting new Chinese map

Three nations shoot down China’s territorial claims in South China Sea as seen in new map

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 31 August 2023 13:12 BST
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Related video on China’s installations in the South China Sea

A map showcasing China’s territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea has been roundly rejected by Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

The three nations categorically shot down the legitimacy of the assertions on the map even as Beijing claimed on Thursday that it should be viewed “rationally and objectively”.

The countries have joined China’s regional rival India in objecting to the map that was released on Monday by China’s Ministry of Natural Resources.

The Indian government had earlier on Wednesday lodged a “strong protest” against the map as it showed the Indian territories of northeastern Arunachal Pradesh and the disputed Aksai Chin area on the western border as Chinese territory.

The map also includes Taiwan and the entire South China Sea as Chinese areas.

“Malaysia does not recognise China’s claims in the South China Sea as outlined in the ‘2023 edition of the standard map of China’ which extends into the Malaysian maritime area,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The map has no binding effect on Malaysia.”

The nation said it has filed a diplomatic protest over the map.

The Philippines also called on China “to act responsibly and abide by its obligations” under international law.

“This latest attempt to legitimise China’s purported sovereignty and jurisdiction over Philippine features and maritime zones has no basis under international law,” its foreign ministry said.

In July 2016, The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration delivered its verdict on a case initiated by the Philippines against China under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The ruling largely favoured the Philippines, addressing nearly all aspects of the dispute. Despite being a party to the treaty that established the tribunal, China declines to acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction and authority.

Taiwan remarked on how the map “cannot change the objective fact of our country’s existence”.

When enquired about the latest Chinese “standard” map, the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson Jeff Liu said Taiwan was “absolutely not a part of the People’s Republic of China”.

“No matter how the Chinese government twists its position on Taiwan’s sovereignty, it cannot change the objective fact of our country’s existence,” he said.

Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi earlier said India rejected claims of China’s so-called “standard map”.

“We have today lodged a strong protest through diplomatic channels with the Chinese side on the so-called 2023 map of China that lays claim to India’s territory,” he had said.

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

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said his country’s “position on the South China Sea issue has always been clear”.

“The competent authorities of China regularly update and release various types of standard maps every year,” he said in the country’s defence.

“We hope that relevant parties can view this in an objective and rational manner.”

Earlier this month, it was reported that new satellite images showed China was constructing a runway on an island that Vietnam also asserts claims over.

A new airstrip began to appear mid-July on Triton Island, a part of the Paracel Islands, known in Chinese as the Xisha Islands and in Vietnamese as the Hoang Sa Islands.

This development marked Beijing’s most recent step in establishing military infrastructure within the disputed South China Sea region.

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