Governments in the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan on Thursday joined India in rejecting China's new national map, issuing strongly worded statements accusing Beijing of claiming their territory.
China published a new version of its national map on Monday to correct what Beijing has in the past referred to as “problematic maps” that it claims misrepresent its territorial borders.
India on Tuesday lodged a strong protest with China over its so-called "standard map" laying claim over Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin, and asserted that such steps only complicate the resolution of the boundary question.
The External Affairs Ministry also rejected China's claims as having "no basis".
"Just making absurd claims does not make other people's territories yours," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said while reacting to the Chinese move.
The Philippine government on Thursday slammed China’s 2023 edition of its so-called “standard map” that still shows swaths of Philippine features in the West Philippine Sea.
The Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources issued on August 28 a controversial map that includes the nine-dash line, now a 10-dash line, that supposedly shows China’s boundaries in the South China Sea.
"This latest attempt to legitimise 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),” Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said in a statement.
Daza said the 2016 Arbitral Award has already invalidated the nine-dashed line and called on China to abide by its obligations under UNCLOS.
"(The award) categorically stated that ‘maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention,” Daza was quoted as saying by the official Philippine News Agency.
“The Philippines, therefore, calls on China to act responsibly and abide by its obligations under UNCLOS and the final and binding 2016 Arbitral Award,” she added.
Manila had already protested the publication of a Chinese national map in 2013, which also placed parts of the Kalayaan Island Group or Spratlys within Beijing’s “national boundaries”.
The Malaysian government said on Thursday that it will send a protest note to China over the latter’s claims on the South China Sea as outlined in the ‘China Standard Map Edition 2023’, which also covers Malaysia's maritime areas.
Foreign Minister Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said the move was a follow-up step taken by the government over the matter.
"This has been our practice (when dealing with issues like this)... and based on the statement issued by Wisma Putra yesterday, the next step includes sending a protest note," he was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency.
The Malaysian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Malaysia does not recognise China’s claims in the South China Sea, as outlined in the “China Standard Map Edition 2023," which also encompasses Malaysia’s maritime areas.
The map holds no binding authority over Malaysia, it said in a statement.
The Vietnamese government also criticised China's latest provocation.
Vietnam strongly reiterates its consistent stance on the sovereignty over Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly), and resolutely rejects any maritime claims of China that are based on the “nine-dash line” in the East Sea, spokeswoman of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pham Thu Hang said on Thursday.
Hang made the statement while answering reporters’ questions regarding Vietnam’s response to China's release of the so-called “standard map 2023” which covers Vietnam’s Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, the official Vietnam News Agency reported.
The issuance of the map as well as China’s “nine-dash line” claim show a violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, as well as Vietnam’s sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its waters as stipulated in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS), she stressed.
Therefore, the sovereignty and maritime claims based on the “nine-dash line” as reflected in the map are void and violate international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS, the spokeswoman said.
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday rebuked China's new "standard map" by saying Taiwan has never been ruled by the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Foreign ministry spokesperson Jeff Liu told Taiwan News that "Taiwan, the Republic of China, is a sovereign and independent country that is not subordinate to the People's Republic of China. The People's Republic of China has never ruled Taiwan. These are universally recognised facts and the status quo in the international community." Meanwhile, China's foreign ministry indicated it was not budging on the map issue.
"China’s position on the South China Sea is consistent and clear. The competent authorities of China routinely publish standard maps of various types every year, which aims to make standard maps available to all sectors of society and raise public awareness of the standardised use of maps.
"We hope parties concerned can view it in an objective and rational light," Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in response to a question on Thursday when sought his comment on the protests from countries like India, Malaysia as well as the Philippines against this new Chinese map.
Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.